Xinjiang’s mosques have grown ten-fold

Source:Xinhua Published: 2015-3-3 0:13:01

Region’s 60th anniversary marked by development, anti-terrorism

Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has over 20,000 mosques, 10 times the number it had more than three decades ago, the spokesperson for the annual session of China's top political advisory body said Monday.

Figures have proven China's commitment to respecting the religious freedom of Muslims, Lü Xinhua, spokesperson for the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, told a press conference.

The number of Islamic clergy in Xinjiang rose to 28,000 from 3,000 more than three decades ago, he said.

Since 2001, the Xinjiang regional government has sent about 4,000 people to Egypt and Pakistan to pursue their studies at Islamic institutions, Lü said.

Over 1 million copies of religious classics, books and magazines in Uyghur and other languages have been published in Xinjiang, the spokesperson added.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. With leapfrog economic and social development, the region, however, has been suffering the most from religious extremism and terrorism in recent years, especially from UN-listed terror group Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

China has set ETIM as the major target when seeking international cooperation against terrorism, Lü said, one day after the one-year anniversary of a deadly terrorist attack in Kunming, Yunnan Province.

A total of 31 people were killed and another 141 injured by knife-wielding people at a train station in Kunming on March 1 last year.

An assault on an open market in Xinjiang's Urumqi on May 22, 2014 killed more than 30 people and injured 94 others, prompting a year-long campaign against terrorism.

Three people were killed and 39 others injured when a jeep plowed into crowds near Tiananmen Square on October 28, 2013. The ETIM claimed responsibility for all three attacks.

The one-year anti-terrorism campaign in Xinjiang since  May last year has helped people realize that everyone is obligated to battle terrorism and maintain peace, said Saimati Muhammat, major general and deputy commander of the Xinjiang Military Area Command.

The Uyghur commander said terrorism should not be blamed on any specific ethnic group, territory or religion. "Terror attacks are sometimes committed in the name of Islam, but even Muslims condemn them. These extreme activities represent a violation of Islamic doctrine."

Lü said that China regards its neighboring countries in South Asia, Central Asia and Southeast Asia as key partners in the global fight against terrorism.

He added that China has set up counter-terrorism cooperation mechanisms with more than 10 countries and has engaged in substantive cooperation in information sharing, intelligence verification, case cooperation and capacity building.

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