Qinghai halal bakery attacked

By Chang Meng Source:Global Times Published: 2015-5-3 23:23:01

Crowd incited by non-halal food in delivery van

The local government of Xining, Qinghai Province on Sunday promised to thoroughly investigate and impartially handle a case in which several Muslims smashed the facilities of a local bakery after discovering non-halal ingredients in its delivering van.

Pork sausages and ham were discovered by several Muslims in the delivery van of a halal branch of chain bakery Aili Cake, located across the street from a big mosque on Friday, the Muslim day of congregational prayer.

As people crowded around the store, several angry Muslims smashed parts of the storefront but no one was hurt, according to a statement by the Xining government on Saturday.

Business operations of the branch and its supplier have been suspended, read the statement.

A joint investigation with the local ethnic and religious affairs office, commerce watchdog and food safety administration has also been launched to identify the responsible parties.

The incident quickly made headlines in the provincial capital, which has 372,500 people from the Islamic Hui ethnic minority, accounting for 16.3 percent of the city's population.

Ma Changqing, imam of the local Dongguan Grand Mosque, slammed the bakery's behavior on Saturday, saying that it offended local Muslims and demanded an apology from the store, while asking fellow Muslims to trust the government investigation, according to muslimwww.com, a major Muslim news portal.

The official Sina Weibo account of the Xining government's publicity office has been swamped with comments demanding that the government investigating the damage.

The office, which closed the Weibo comment function on Sunday for several hours, responded that police are collecting evidence, and that the store's operations have been suspended pending an investigation of its production process.

It emphasized that the case will be handled impartially.

Qinghai provincial guidelines for halal food require certified businesses to have dedicated production, storage and transport facilities.

"For Muslims, the store's actions were unacceptable, differ from selling other counterfeit goods and must be investigated. Their anger is understandable but it does not justify violent protests," Turgunjan Tursun, a Muslim research fellow with the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

"The government needs to canvass the supply chain and the supervisory body of halal food, and also communicate with the religious community. It has t0 clearly convey the message that religious customs should be respected and work under the law," he said. His opinion was echoed by many Muslims, who called online for their fellows to refrain from violence and defend rights in a reasonable fashion.

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