There is trouble in China with their Muslim minority the Uighur. The video posted online last month looks much like ones from Middle East jihadist groups. It shows what appears to be a man making a suitcase bomb and grainy footage of an explosion at a crowded railway station here. The soundtrack plays an Arabic chant inciting holy war.
The social media site wasn’t meant to rally followers in Iraq or Syria. Its appeal is to China’s ten million Uighurs, a Muslim group from the northwestern region of Xinjiang, some of whom have resisted Chinese rule for decades. The Internet of course has been a key tool for Mideast militants but now it appears to be helping spread the ideology and tactics of violent Jihadism even to a remote corner of China, which only came on online recently.
On July 30th and 31st 2011 attacks were carried out by Uighur Jihadists in Kashgar, using knives and home-made bombs. They began when two Uighur youths hijacked a truck, killed its driver and drove into a crowd of pedestrians. They got out of the truck and stabbed six people to death and injured twenty seven others. One of the attackers was killed by the crowd the other arrested.
The following day two explosions started a fire at a popular restaurant. A group of armed Uighur men killed two people inside of the restaurant and four people outside, injuring fifteen people.The government says the attackers confessed to Jihadist motives and membership of the radical East Turkestan Islamic Movement, while an overseas pro-Uighur independence group took responsibility for the attacks blaming them on ‘a lack of options for nonviolent antigovernment protest.’
On March 1 2014 there was a similar attack in the city of Kunming, Yunnan. This one left twenty nine civilians dead and more than 140 injured. It was carried out by a group of eight knife-wielding men and women who attacked passengers at the city’s railway station using long-bladed knives. Last summer BBC reporter Carrie Gracie witnessed a vehicle ploughing into a crowd by multiple attackers armed with knives and homemade explosives who were then shot dead by police. At least 200 people have died in the last six months in what Gracie calls, ‘clashes related to Xinjiang’ the name of the Uighur province. Most people would term them terrorist attacks on civilians.
The Chinese government is naturally very alarmed. They refer to the ‘triple evil’ of religious extremism, separatism and terrorism. They have introduced a new law this month to combat religious extremism. Unanimously approved on Nov 28th by the Xinjiang People’s Congress, the region’s parliament, it is the first legislation in China to target religious extremism.
The regulations also say those who use the Internet, mobile devices or digital publishing to disseminate religiously motivated material deemed to undermine national unity, social stability or incite ethnic hatred can be fined as much as 30,000 yuan (US$4,850) and have their equipment confiscated.
The Chinese politbureau are an unlovable bunch, no one would like to fall foul of them with their internecine struggles, but it is understandable that within the context of the world wide Jihad currently making its murderous progress, they must take some action. The ‘triple evil’ now affects us all. The most passionate anti-communist upholder of free speech would understand their position – but strangely not the liberal left represented by the BBC.
On Radio 4 on Friday 2nd of January, there was a long sympathetic report from Gracie on the Uighur people, more of an anthropological study than a news report, by someone who seems infatuated with them. This was followed by a news report on BBC TV in the evening based on her report, which accused the Chinese of persecuting this ethnic group, did not mention terrorist attacks, and in particular reported disapprovingly not about restrictions on religious practice, but that there are now increased checks on young Uighur men travelling through airports. These controls were clearly seen by the BBC as discriminatory, on grounds of race and sex.
Neither the Han Chinese nor their Uighur people live within the orbit of the Human Rights Act, and of course many British people find its strictures ludicrous. Not just dotty in the case of airport checks but highly dangerous. The voice of the BBC was loud and clear on this issue – any control on Muslims who are likely to be going abroad or returning home to practise Jihad are discriminatory. Is one to conclude that if they want to blow us up, it is their human right to do so?