Clergy urged to lead bat­tle against ex­trem­ism spread

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By XUWEI in Bei­jing xuwei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Re­li­gious ex­trem­ism has started to spread into in­land pro­vin­cial ar­eas from the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion, ac­cord­ing to China’s top re­li­gious af­fairs of­fi­cial, who urged the China Is­lamic As­so­ci­a­tion to step up ser­vices for Mus­lim mi­grants and lead the fight against ex­trem­ist thoughts.

Wang Zuo’an, head of the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion for Re­li­gious Af­fairs, said at the Na­tional Congress of the China Is­lamic As­so­ci­a­tion on Satur­day that the in­fil­tra­tion of ex­trem­ist thoughts into the east­ern and cen­tral ar­eas de­serves close at­ten­tion.

“(The Is­lamic clergy) should stand in the front line in the fight to curb re­li­gious ex­trem­ism … and put in time and en­ergy to con­vert the mind­set of those peo­ple in­flu­enced by ex­trem­ist thoughts,” he said.

The as­so­ci­a­tion opened its three-day 10th Na­tional Congress on Satur­day, with mem­bers of the clergy con­ven­ing in Bei­jing to elect newlead­er­ship and re­vise its con­sti­tu­tion. More than 370 rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 31 pro­vin­cial ar­eas are tak­ing part.

Wang said the as­so­ci­a­tion should use the in­ter­net to make clear the nature of the harm of ex­trem­ism to Mus­lims. It should also en­cour­age the use of pop­u­lar Is­lamic read­ings to sat­isfy the re­li­gious de­mand of their con­gre­ga­tions, and re­fute mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Qu­ran, he said.

“We should let Mus­lims know the bound­aries be­tween le­gal and il­le­gal re­li­gious ac­tiv­i­ties, to en­able them to say no to il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties,” he said.

The coun­try has seen a grow­ing trend of Mus­lims mi­grat­ing from the west to east­ern and cen­tral ar­eas for the pur­poses of busi­ness, em­ploy­ment and study, he said.

“The as­so­ci­a­tion should help lo­cal Is­lamic as­so­ci­a­tions pro­vide re­li­gious ser­vices … and step up the train­ing of lo­cal clergy,” which some­times is in short sup­ply, he said.

It should also tar­get il­le­gal pub­li­ca­tions and the spread of ex­trem­ism through the in­ter­net.

Guo Chengzhen, vi­cepres­i­dent and sec­re­tary­gen­eral of the as­so­ci­a­tion, said in a work re­port at the congress that the as­so­ci­a­tion should dig deep into doc­trines and canons that are in line with so­cial har- mony and progress.

The in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Qu­ran, and curb­ing the in­fil­tra­tion of ex­trem­ist thought, will be a top pri­or­ity for the as­so­ci­a­tion in the next five years, he said.

The as­so­ci­a­tion is also look­ing to de­velop ties with Is­lamic or­ga­ni­za­tions in coun­tries along the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, and to es­tab­lish plat­forms on bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion and ser­vices, he said.

There are 26 coun­tries with dom­i­nant Mus­lim pop­u­la­tions along the ini­tia­tive’s routes, and the as­so­ci­a­tion should con­duct ex­changes with in­ter­na­tional Is­lamic or­ga­ni­za­tions and coun­tries as the coun­try pushes the ini­tia­tive for­ward, Wang said.

China has a to­tal Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion of more than 20 mil­lion and more than half live in the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion, ac­cord­ing to the na­tional de­mo­graphic cen­sus in 2010, the lat­est cen­sus of its kind.

ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

Del­e­gates ex­change views at the Na­tional Congress of the China Is­lamic As­so­ci­a­tion on Satur­day in Bei­jing.

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