Alleged brawl involving Muslims at Tangshan tollbooth triggers online outcry

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/4 21:48:39

Angry Chinese netizens have stormed social media accounts of various government departments of Tangshan, North China's Hebei Province on Monday demanding a response to an alleged brawl involving Muslim minorities at a local toll station during the weekend.

The Weibo account of Tangshan Public Security Bureau has drawn over 2,500 comments about the incident by press time, with most demanding that the government should not be biased toward Muslim minorities as they believe the authorities are always working for "unity at the cost of justice." Other Weibo accounts like the Communist Youth League's also received over 14,000 incendiary comments.  

Calls to the Kaiping district public security bureau and Kaiping government which have jurisdiction over the toll station, went unanswered as of press time. 

Asked about the alleged brawl, a publicity department employee surnamed Zhao from the government of another district in Tangshan, Guye district, confirmed with the Global Times that "someone was beaten," without elaborating on the details. 

An online video showed that dozens of men in white skull caps gathered in front of the Kaiping district government, while several other videos depicted broken windows and computers of a tollbooth. A man could be seen throwing stone to a tollbooth in one video with background noises shouting "bravo!" 

According to two notices allegedly from the Guye district government and Kaiping district police bureau circulated online, the imam of a mosque in Guye district allegedly scuffled with an employee of the Dongchukou toll station in Kaiping district Saturday after the imam was stopped for passing through a closed lane at the station. Some 100 local Muslims then gathered and blocked the toll station, according to the notices. The notices could not be seen on the official website of the Guye district government and Kaiping district police bureau.  

After the videos and notices went viral, many angry Chinese netizens complained about the country's "partial policies toward Muslims for the sake of social stability," and demanded a thorough investigation into the incident and punishment for those who broke the law. The authorities are viewed to be more lenient to offenders who are Muslim minorities.

The online complaints were also posted in the commentary sections of several daily hot topics on Sina Weibo. Meanwhile, many discussions of the incident have been deleted on several Chinese social media platforms Monday.

The incident has also induced anti-graft emotion against local transportation authorities, because netizens and media revealed that the Dongchukou station was still charging toll fee after the local government had announced to cancel it. 

China Consumer, a Beijing-based newspaper, reported on August 1, 2016 that the provincial government has ordered the local government to close the toll station in 2009. But the station is still running in 2017.  

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