Xinjiang sees better religious facility: Hatifu

By Fan Lingzhi in Hotan Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/4 23:53:40

Xinjiang residents dance in a square at the Grand Bazaar in Urumqi, capital of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Thursday. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has taken multiple measures to fight terrorism and extremism, which have helped bring development and prosperity to the region. 

However, some Western media have attacked China's Xinjiang policies, accusing the central and regional governments of "suppressing religious freedom."

Despite the exaggerated reports and even "fake news" of some Western media, people who live in Xinjiang are in a much better position to speak about the situation.  

The Global Times on Wednesday conducted an exclusive interview with Wubuliaishan Tursunyaz, a 53-year-old Hatifu, or religious teacher, at the Jiamai Mosque in Hotan, southern Xinjiang. Hotan used to be plagued by extremism and once the main battlefield of de-radicalization.

Wubuliaishan has been working as a Hatifu for more than 27 years.

Jiamai Mosque, which is located in Naerbage street in Hotan, was built in 1848. It is the largest mosque in Hotan.

Wubuliaishan was buying a dutar for his 7-year-old grandson at a shop near the Jiamai Mosque when the Global Times reporter reached him on Wednesday.

Dutar is a musical instrument played by many ethnic groups in Xinjiang, including Uyghurs.

Wubuliaishan said he intends to cultivate his grandson's interest in music. He smiled whenever he talked with people, and seemed satisfied with his life. But 10 years ago, he was living in fear.

Wubuliaishan recalled that extremism was once rampant in Hotan. Few residents knew national laws and regulations, which made them susceptible to brainwashing by illegal imams with distorted Islamic doctrines. 

Illegal imams also attacked and threatened religious people who expressed support and love for the country, he said.

"One typical example of residents being influenced by extremism at that time was that local women had a very low social status. Many people thought that 'women could only rely on men' and women were banned from working outside," he told the Global Times.

Some villagers thought it was useless for girls to go to college. Instead, they were eager to get their underaged daughters married, Wubuliaishan said, noting that only one or two girls could get the chance to go to college in a village, but their parents still prevented them from going.

"To be honest, I felt useless and guilty with the situation at that time," Wubuliaishan said.

As a Hatifu, he used to persuade these parents who prevented their daughters from going to college. Luckily, three girls finally got the precious opportunity to go to college.

"They still keep in touch with me and treat me like their father. I always tell them that they should thank the government for its de-radicalization efforts, which help give women an equal chance."

To fight terrorism and extremism, the regional government in Xinjiang passed the Regulations of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on De-radicalization in March 2017. It states that no one should prevent their children from receiving an education or interfering with the implementation of China's education system.

"I feel better now," Wubuliaishan said with a smile, noting that Xinjiang's de-radicalization efforts have also enhanced local residents' legal awareness.

"Local residents will turn to working groups in villages and local governments to help them with their legal problems. I think it is good," he said.

Wubuliaishan Tursunyaz, a 53-year-old Hatifu, or religious teacher, at the Jiamai Mosque in Hotan, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region poses for a picture. Photo: Liu Xin/GT

Protecting legal activities

Some Western media always criticize China's Xinjiang policies, alleging that they would "suppress residents' religious freedom." However, by abiding by related laws and regulations, Xinjiang has respected people's religious freedom and protected legal religious activities.  

Wubuliaishan told the Global Times that more than 50 residents come to the mosque to pray every day. More than 800 religious residents come to the mosque to listen to his sermon every Friday.

"I always promote the unity of different ethnic groups. I tell religious residents to do good things. Recently, I lectured on the harm caused by drugs, telling them to stay away from drugs," said Wubuliaishan.  

Aside from ramping up efforts on de-radicalization, Xinjiang has also taken greater efforts to improve facilities at religious sites. 

Wubuliaishan said that there was only dry latrine in the mosque before, which was not sanitary.

But now, the facilities in the mosque have been improved.

The Global Times reporter saw air conditioners at the mosque. Books on religion, technology and laws are offered in the mosque's reading room. Bathing equipment and toilets have also been installed.

According to a white paper released by the State Council Information Office in March, mosques in Xinjiang have been equipped with running water, electricity, natural gas, radio and television facilities, and libraries. 

All this has greatly improved the conditions of venues for religious activities and better satisfied the reasonable requests of believers.

Wubuliaishan told the Global Times that religious teachers like him could get a 1,800 yuan ($262) monthly allowance from the government. As the instructor of religious affairs, he had led several groups for Hajj.

 "I was there to help believers solve their accommodation and communication problems. The government arranges instructors to help them accomplish the Hajj. This shows the government's respect for people's religious needs," he said.

Safety guaranteed 

In response to some Western media criticism of Xinjiang's religious freedom situation, Wubuliaishan said angrily that "What they said is nonsense!" 

Three facts can prove they are terribly wrong: the government has taken good care of religious teachers and imams; their social status has improved; and more importantly, their safety has been secured, according to Wubuliaishan.

According to the white paper, many religious leaders were assassinated by terrorists. For example, 74-year-old Senior Mullah Juma Tayier, who was vice president of the Xinjiang Islamic Association and imam of the Id Kah Mosque in Kashi, was killed by three terrorists on July 30, 2014.

As religious leaders, they need to guide believers to do good things, promote the unity of different ethnic groups and promote social harmony, he said. "If my health permits, I would like to devote my life to my role. I also hope my grandson grows up soon and becomes someone useful to the country and society."

"If my health permits, I would like to devote my life to my role. I also hope my grandson grows up soon and becomes someone useful to the country and society," he said.

Posted in: SOCIETY

blog comments powered by Disqus