Officials from China’s ruling Communist Party warned citizens the rising influence of Islamic extremism in China would result in the country losing its traditional identity.
Addressing a group of Chinese politicians at a regional meeting, Ningxia Communist Party secretary Li Jianguo pointed to U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent travel ban as an example of a way to prevent “religious extremism from seeping into all of American culture.”
“What the Islamic State and extremists push is jihad, terror, violence. This is why we see Trump targeting Muslims in a travel ban,” Li reportedly said in reference to Trump’s executive order barring citizens from six Muslim-majority nations from entering the U.S. on national security grounds. “It doesn’t matter whether the anti-Muslim policy is in the interests of the U.S. or it promotes stability; it’s about preventing religious extremism from seeping into all of American culture.”
Because the “international anti-terror situation” was destabilizing China, a “people’s war” by Chinese citizens is needed to safeguard the country’s national identity, Shaerheti Ahan, a top party official in the predominantly Muslim Xingjian region, told a group of political leaders in Beijing Sunday.
Municipal lawmakers in the western Xinjiang region, which is home to China’s minority Uighur Muslim community, implemented greater surveillance measures and police patrols after a number of attacks, which Beijing blamed on Uighur separatist fighters linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State, killed hundreds of Chinese citizens. The Islamic State released a video in February allegedly showing Uighur fighters training alongside Islamic State militants in Iraq. In the video, the terrorists threatened to launch attacks on China.
A number of high-profile anti-terror rallies have been conducted by law enforcement officials in Xinjiang to demonstrate China’s military capability to Islamic militants. These demonstrations, which often featured police and armored vehicles parading through the regional capital, were intended to “declare war against terrorists, to showcase the party and the government’s resolve to fight terror, resolve to preserve public safety and [China’s] mighty combat strength,” Ahan told government officials gathered in Beijing.
The Chinese federal government allegedly has tried to stop Uighurs from practicing Islam through a law preventing anyone under the age of 18 from entering a mosque, Alim Seytoff, president of the Uyghur American Association, told Al Jazeera in October 2012. The roughly 20 Muslims living in China make up 1.5 percent of its entire population.