Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT
The Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau has deemed the jeep crash that happened on October 28 at Tiananmen Square an organized and premeditated terrorist attack. Five suspects have been arrested. According to an announcement by the Beijing police, they are all Uyghur, the fourth largest minority ethnic group in China, whose dominant belief is Sunni Islam.
In the last few years, fundamentalism has seen signs of rise in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
In some areas, fundamentalists have started to force female Muslims to wear the chador, which is not an indigenous Uyghur tradition, and forbade entertainment at wedding ceremonies.
The traditional culture of Uyghur is now facing grave challenges from fundamentalism.
Fundamentalist elements can be found in many terrorist attacks that have taken place in Xinjiang since 2009. But it cannot prove that Uyghur as a whole has been kidnapped by fundamentalism.
Since the Uyghur converted to Islam, fundamentalism has never managed to take root in the land of Xinjiang. The main body of Uyghur embraces mild Islam so that fundamentalists' attempts in the history of Xinjiang have always failed.
The incident on October 28 was the first attack in Beijing launched by terrorists and violent extremists from Xinjiang. This incident has massively expanded the terrorism issue, which could cause regional disturbance in the past to a national level.
Because of this, the media is paying high attention to the case so that the public can be well-informed.
However, the media should utilize its public trust and capability of revealing the truth to take more responsibilities.
Over the past several years, Chinese journalists have gained experience in reporting on vulnerable populations, such as AIDS patients and homosexual people.
The latest incident has imposed new challenges over Chinese media. How to effectively report this unprecedented incident which happened at the political center of this nation should be given full considerations.
The media needs to realize that they are assuming social responsibilities such as ensuring ethnic equality, unity and sociocultural variety.
The majority of Uyghur are also victims of this terrorist attack. Terrorists don't belong to any ethnic group, or represent any particular religion.
The mainstream media should take on the responsibility of separating this incident from the Uyghur and Islam. They need to portray the image of Xinjiang and Uyghur in a comprehensive manner, and try their best to avoid secondary damage to the Uyghur people, especially the ones who live outside of the far west.
More importantly, the media must avoid linking terrorism only to certain areas.
Wiping out terrorism is a common task assumed by the entire world. It is the foe of all Chinese, which includes the Uyghur.
Media is entrusted with an important task of maintaining social stability, protecting the integration of culture as well as its diversity. Whether media can stand the test this time remains to be seen.
The author is a lecturer at the Journalism and Communication College, Xinjiang University. firstname.lastname@example.org