China bans anti-Islam words on social media

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/20 23:03:40 Last Updated: 2017/9/21 3:43:07

Authorities ban use of anti-Islam words

Allegedly Islamophobic terms invented by Chinese Internet users to stigmatize Muslims have been blocked by authorities on Chinese social media amid a backlash against national policies some deem overly favorable to Muslim minorities. 

Searches for "green religion" and "peaceful religion", often used by Internet users to refer to Islam and to circumvent censorship of inappropriate online speech, showed no results on China's Weibo microblog on Wednesday.

Posts containing the phrases cannot be posted for "violations of Weibo's complaints related rules." Worse insults against Islam are also blocked in Weibo's search engine.

Discontent and fears of Muslims have been on the rise on China's Internet in recent years. Complainers target Chinese authorities' affirmative discrimination policies toward ethnic minorities, especially Muslim groups.

"It's necessary to timely remove radical phrases that discriminate against Islam and are biased against Muslims to prevent worsening online hatred towards the group. Those phrases severely undermine religious harmony and ethnic unity," said Xiong Kunxin, a professor at Beijing's Minzu University of China in Beijing.

"Blocking such phrases is not an infringement of people's freedom of speech as freedom should abide under China's related regulations and law," Xiong said. 

Some Internet users misunderstand China's ethnic policies, calling them "unjust" to the majority Han people, he said.

To achieve national unity and social stability, ethnic minorities including Hui and Uyghur people enjoy favorable policies including receiving extra points in China's college entrance examinations, more lenient family planning policies and securing a certain ratio of positions in government.

The favorable policies are aimed at helping ethnic minorities who lag behind in economic and educational development. They are intended to accelerate development toward greater ethnic unity, Xiong said.

Although officially atheist, China also protects its residents' rights to practice their religion. The government assisted 12,800 Muslims in making the pilgrimage to Mecca this year and closed streets for Muslims to celebrate Eid al-Fitr.

After an alleged brawl involving Muslim people at a toll booth went viral, Internet users inundated the official Weibo accounts of Tangshan city government departments with complaints about the country's allegedly partial treatment of Muslims for the sake of social stability.

China has 20 million Muslims, according to the 2013 population census.

Newspaper headline: Authorities ban use of anti-Islam words

Posted in: SOCIETY

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