Uighurs pour scorn on China Tiananmen ‘terrorist’ claim

Updated 13 November 2013

Uighurs pour scorn on China Tiananmen ‘terrorist’ claim

BEIJING: Members of China’s mostly Muslim Uighur minority and overseas groups on Thursday dismissed China’s account of a Tiananmen Square “terrorist attack” as a dubious pretext for repression, amid signs of stepped-up security.
Beijing police said on Wednesday that Usmen Hasan — in an SUV carrying his mother and wife, jihadist banners and machetes — sped onto the pavement, crashed in front of a giant portrait of Mao Zedong and set the car alight.
The incident in the symbolic heart of the Chinese state killed two tourists, with 40 other people injured, and all three in the car died, police said.
Five other suspects with Uighur-sounding names were captured within 10 hours, although police only announced their detention two days later.
The Uighur minority is concentrated in China’s far-western region of Xinjiang, where ethnic tensions and discontent with the government periodically burst out into violence.
Beijing regularly calls such incidents “terrorism,” but Uighur organizations dismiss that as an excuse to justify religious and security restrictions. Information in the area is tightly controlled.
“I don’t think there are any Uighur terrorist organizations, but China gives us a terrorist hat,” said a Uighur at a university campus in the capital, who asked not to be named.
“I love this country but I’m afraid that people won’t understand me,” he added. “It’s possible that some would take this kind of extreme measure, but because... they had a very sad experience.”
He and other Uighurs around the capital described discrimination they had encountered. A chef in a Xinjiang restaurant declined to talk about terrorism for fear he would come “under pressure.”
Alim Seytoff, a US-based spokesman for the overseas World Uyghur Congress (WUC), called the official narrative of the Tiananmen event full of holes and discriminatory.
“The Chinese claim is in a way very unbelievable, to some extent outrageous,” he told AFP.
“The only reason this is labelled as a terrorist incident is because the passengers happened to be Uighurs.”
Seytoff questioned why an attacker would kill his own family, and how religious material could survive in a car engulfed in flames.
“Why would he bring his mother and his wife?” Seytoff said.
“The car was burned almost to the ground, the three people were burned to death, and the flag wasn’t burned — in the car?“
Seytoff said there was a pattern of authorities labelling Uighurs as terrorists based on “thin evidence.”
He dismissed claims of organized resistance in Xinjiang, describing incidents instead as “sporadic, individualistic, out of desperation.”
According to Chinese state-run media a “terrorist attack” in the Turpan area in Xinjiang left 35 people dead in June, and 139 people have been arrested in recent months for propagating jihadist ideology.
Ethnic tensions have risen in Xinjiang since millions of members of China’s Han majority moved to the resource-rich region, where they largely control the economy.

Rioting in the capital Urumqi involving both ethnic groups in 2009 left 200 people dead.
Seytoff warned Uighurs could face tighter repression after Monday’s incident, particularly in the capital, where the WUC said 93 people have been rounded up.
In Xinjiang residents of Turpan said security had been ramped up, as it was after the June violence.
A restaurant manager surnamed Wang said police had alerted them to “prepare against attacks.”
State-run media warned Thursday Uighurs would be the “biggest victims” of the Tiananmen incident.
Police had refrained from stating the attackers’ ethnicity but the Global Times, which is close to the ruling Communist party and often strikes a nationalist tone, said that all those involved were Uighurs.
“People from Xinjiang, especially the Uighurs, will be the biggest victims,” it said. “The ordinary work and study of Xinjiang people” in other parts of China “may be affected,” it added, urging people in Xinjiang to “understand the negative effects and overcome them by cooperating.”
It also exhorted Han Chinese to “make the Uighurs feel our sincerity.”
Beijing’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying condemned the Tiananmen incident Thursday as “an action against humanity, society and civilians.”
It was “extremely wrong” to link the actions of “a small group of extremists with Chinese policy on ethnic groups and religion,” she added.

Malaysia welcomes its first halal TV streaming service

Updated 22 September 2020

Malaysia welcomes its first halal TV streaming service

  • Service attracts more than 10,000 subscribers since July

KUALA LUMPUR: Netflix could soon have competition from a homegrown entertainment platform in Malaysia which, its makers say, will cater to Muslims’ “halal TV” needs based on Islamic values.

Dubbed “Nurflix,” the platform is Malaysia’s first Shariah-compliant streaming service and has attracted more than 10,000 subscribers since July.

Nurflix is the creation of Syah Rizal Mohamed, who wants to produce and release original content for the platform before its official launch in January.

“We spent $9.7 million for the startup, but the company will produce 1,000 (items of) original content in multiple categories like mainstream, educational, spiritual and motivational and kids, with about 12,000 episodes in the first five years of operating,” the 43-year-old CEO told Arab News.

He also plans for Nurflix to acquire content from local and international producers, as long as they align with the service’s production guidelines, with a focus on markets in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore before setting up internationally.

“We see ourselves covering the Southeast Asian region in the next five years with our readiness to establish hubs in the Middle East and Europe to gain traction in the international market.”

He said the decision to tap into the streaming service market was driven by the rapid growth of video-on-demand media and consumers choosing this, as well as over-the-top subscription services, as their main form of entertainment. 

Consumers agreed that there was a market for a halal content platform.

“The Islamic streaming service just enriches the Islamic entertainment ecosystem because there is a niche for it,” 25-year-old public relations executive Puteri N. Balqis told Arab News.

Media consultant Amir Hadi Azmi said a Shariah-compliant streaming service was an interesting niche, particularly for more conservative users, but that the concept was not unique to Islam or Muslims.

“In America, for example, there is a service called Pure Flix which caters to more conservative Christian viewers,” he told Arab News.

Amir Muhammad, managing director of Kuman Pictures, said that as a producer, the more outlets that were made available to content producers and filmmakers, the better. Kuman Pictures, which is known for releasing horror and thriller content, could create appropriate content if need be.

“I have not seen their actual guidelines, but if they want halal horror, we will give them halal horror,” he told Arab News.

The Nurflix CEO said there would be a Content Advisory Council and that it would be headed and supervised by Habib Ali Zaenal Abidin Al Hamid and the Honorable Ustaz Raja Ahmad Mukhlis.

“Productions, including third-party content providers, will be monitored by the council to ensure the end product abides by the set guidelines. Nurflix is unique in the market because it is not just offering Islamic-guided content. The production will be monitored by the council to ensure all aspects of work are conducted in a Shariah-compliant manner.”

Although there is no formal collaboration with the Islamic Affairs Department, he said that Nurflix’s ideas and concepts had already been shared with Islamic Affairs Minister Dr. Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri.

When contacted by Arab News, the director-general of Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development Paimuzi Yahya said his department was still working on “collaborating with the streaming service” and declined to comment further.