Court jails resident for attacking Muslims

By Zhao Yusha Source:Global Times Published: 2017/12/19 0:03:02

Experts notice rise in anti-muslim sentiment in recent years

A court in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province sentenced a resident to two years and six months in jail for attacking Islam and Muslims online, a move that experts say is a way to "combat extreme ethnic emotions" amid a rise in anti-Muslims sentiments.

The verdict, which was announced in late November by the city's Heping District People's Court, charged Li Zhidong, a Han, with inciting ethnic hatred after he set up a website and online chat groups and posted attacks on Muslims from April 2009 to June 2016. The verdict cited pictures and articles that were said to insult Muslims, Islam, and the prophet Muhammad.

The verdict also said that Li's behavior violated the principle of ethnic equality and had a negative impact on society.

Li was first detained in September 2009 for inciting ethnic hatred, but was later released on bail, and was arrested again in June 2016, on the same charge, according to the verdict.

Li's behavior caused some Hui people in Lanzhou, Gansu Province to lodge a petition to the government and made negative social influence.

China's Criminal Law states that anyone found guilty of inciting national enmity or discrimination, in serious circumstances, can be sentenced to serve time up to three years in prison.

Resentment and fears of Muslims have been on the rise on China's Internet in recent years.

While most recent terrorist attacks have mostly taken place in Europe and the US, and been mostly linked with Muslims or people who were greatly influenced by Islamic religion, these attacks made them stand out more, Xiong Kunxin, a Minzu University of China professor in Beijing, told the Global Times.

There are also complaints in China which also target the country's partial policies toward ethnic minorities, especially Muslim groups for the sake of social stability.

"This is completely in accordance with the law and will provide a lesson for others on not mouthing abusive comments on people of any ethnic group," Shen Guiping, a religious expert at the Central Institute of Socialism in Beijing told the Global Times on Monday.

"Most Muslims in China are strongly against terrorism and support China's unity and stability," said a Chinese expert on religion who requested anonymity, stressing Islamophobia should be by no means tolerated in China. 

Although officially atheist, China also protects its residents' rights to practice their religion. The government has done a great deal in promoting ethnic unity and preventing the spread of anti-Muslim sentiments in recent years. It assisted 12,800 Muslims in making the pilgrimage to Mecca this year and closed streets for Muslims to celebrate Eid al-Fitr.

China's top legislature adopted a Cybersecurity Law in 2016, stating that any online activity that undermines national unity is against the law, which also forbids acts that incite ethnic hatred or discrimination or spread violent and obscene content.

China has 20 million Muslims, according to the 2013 population census, the Xinhua News Agency said.

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