Islam in China flourishing
JAVED AKHTAR ISLAMABAD—Islam in China is flourishing and Chinese Muslims are enjoying complete religious freedom.
The prevailing Chinese laws protect normal religious activities. All normal religious activities, including attending religious services, fasting, worshiping Buddha, praying, preaching, reciting scriptures, burning incense, attending Mass, being baptized or ordained, observing extreme unction, holding memorial ceremonies, and celebrating religious festivals, that believers conduct at venues for religious activities or in their own homes in accordance with customary religious practices, are exclusive affairs of religious groups and the believers themselves.
These activities are protected by law, and no organization or individual may interfere with them. To ensure successful pilgrimages for believers in Islam, the largest Muslims’ populated region Xinjiang adopts a policy of organized and planned pilgrimages.
Since 1996 the Xinjiang government has arranged charter flights every year to take believers in Islam to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The Xinjiang government funds medical care and interpretation for pilgrims, and offers other services to ensure safe and orderly pilgrimages.
Citizens’ religious feelings and needs are fully respected. During the holy Islamic month of Ramadan whether to close or open halal (Muslim food) restaurants is completely determined by the owners themselves without interference. There are mosques with a tradition of having iftar (the evening meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset) and a number of religious believers provide free iftar to fasting people. Local governments ensure that all religious activities during Ramadan go on in an orderly manner. On July 3, 2015, during Ramadan, a 6.5-magnitude earthquake occurred in Hotan Prefecture. The government carried out rescue work while at the same time promptly setting up temporary sites to ensure prayer, fasting and other normal religious life for religious believers in the disaster-hit areas. On the evening of July 17 (the eve of Eid al-Fitr, festival of breaking of the fast), principal Party and government leaders of Xinjiang had iftar with Islamic personages and Muslim representatives of all ethnic groups to welcome Eid alFitr, attracting wide attention and praise from all sectors of society.
The customs of religious believers are fully respected. State laws, including the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy, Criminal Law, General Principles of the Civil Law, Education Law, Labor Law, and Advertising Law, and local regulations, including the Regulations of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Administration of Muslim Food and the Regulations of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on the Work of Ethnic Unity and Progress contain specific provisions on the protection of religious customs, including production, processing, storage, distribution and selling of halal food, supply of special food, setting up of halal restaurants and halal canteens. During the Spring Festival, Eid al-Adha (Corban Festival), Eid alFitr and other major traditional festivals, all ethnic groups can enjoy statutory holidays and be supplied with special foodstuffs. Special cemetery areas are allocated for some ethnicminority groups who traditionally bury their dead in the ground. Traditional practices of a religious nature, such as naming a child, funeral pray, burial, and holding Nazer (memorial activities), are respected.
Religious and cultural heritages are effectively protected. A total of 109 religious and cultural sites in Xinjiang, including Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, Shengyou Lamasery in Zhaosu and the Kizil Grottoes, have been designated as cultural relics sites under the protection of the autonomous region and the state. Among the 109 sites, 46 are key cultural relics sites under the protection of the state, and 63 are under the protection of the autonomous region.
The central government has allocated special funds to renovate cultural relic protection sites at the state and autonomous-region levels, including the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, Baytulla Mosque in Yining, Jiaman Mosque in Hotan, Yanghang Mosque in Urumqi and the Tomb of the Fragrant Imperial Concubine (Apak Hoja Mazzar) in Kashgar. to facilitate the issuance of visas for Ukrainian fans who are planning to visit the European Football Championship in France”, the official statement said late Monday.
About 10 fans gathered outside the French embassy in Kiev Monday in protest against delays in getting the visas. The tournament starts Friday.—APP