Xinjiang sets up local committees to better serve religious activities

By Zhao Yusha Source:Global Times Published: 2016/11/22 23:28:39

The requirement for residents to report religious activities to local residential committees in some places in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is aimed at assisting with the residents' religious practices, and will be expanded to the whole region, expert said.

Xinjiang has established religious committees and residential communities to manage religious practices since September, requiring local residents to report their religious activities or activities attended by religious people, including circumcision, weddings and funerals, La Disheng, a professor at the Party School of the Communist Party of China Xinjiang regional committee, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

La confirmed that the policy is implemented in some places in Xinjiang on a trial basis and will be rolled out in the whole region in the near future.

La said that the policy is aimed at helping local governments to offer better "services to religious activities" and it is in accordance with laws and regulations.

A picture of a notice released by a community committee in Dada Mutu village, northwestern Xinjiang's Yining city, has been circulated online, which reads that residents should attend the flag-raising ceremony at 10 am on Monday every week and should report religious activities to the community committee.

The government of Dada Mutu could not be reached as of press time.

The online notice also mentioned that community committees could help contact religious people when a religious host is needed and can arrange places and stuff used in religious activities if needed.

The practice of reporting religious activities to the government has been followed since 2014, and became a policy in 2016, a former village official of Hotan county told the Global Times on Tuesday, adding that the policy is intended to guide religion to better adapt to the secular society.

It is not compulsory for residents to attend the flag-raising ceremony but many residents have attended the ceremony regularly, said the former official.

The former official also said that it is not strange for citizens to attend the national flag-raising ceremony since schools in inland areas also hold flag-raising regularly. "I don't know why this ordinary ceremony suddenly became sensitive, a big news when it comes to Xinjiang," he said.

A resident from southern Xinjiang's Aksu city, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Tuesday that a flag-raising ceremony is held every Monday in local communities and mosques, and residents who attend the ceremony are required to sing the national anthem and salute the national flag.

A white paper on freedom of religious beliefs in the Xinjiang released in June said that the region currently has 24,800 religious venues, including 24,400 mosques, 59 Buddhist temples, 227 Protestant churches, 26 Catholic churches and three Orthodox churches. The autonomous region is home to 29,300 clerical personnel, including 29,000 imams, 280 Buddhist monks and 26 Protestant pastors.

The document said religious extremism has been spreading in Xinjiang in recent years, which has turned some people into extremists or terrorists involved in a series of deadly terror attacks.

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