Beijing: Over 500 people belonging to a cult Christian group have been detained in China for spreading rumours about December 21 being the doomsday when the world will come to an end.
Those detained are said to belong to a Christian sect named Almighty God, which is also called Eastern Lightning. The group preaches that Jesus has reappeared as a woman in central China. It has been accused of targeting Christians, kidnapping and beating them to force conversions.
“These cult members recently latched on to the Mayan doomsday scenario to predict the sun will not shine and electricity will not work for three days beginning Dec 21”, said Xinhua news agency.
Police seized leaflets, video discs, books and other apocalyptic materials in the recent arrests of more than 500 people across eight provinces and regions, from the prosperous east coast to less developed western China, state media reports said.
The arrests came days ahead of December 21 – a date some say the Mayans predicted would be the end of the world as it marks the conclusion of a 5,125-year-long Mayan calendar, a point associated with the apocalypse.
The arrests also hold significance as police said that the man, who went on a stabbing spree, slashing 23 small children outside the gate of a village school in central China's Henan Province, was influenced by doomsday prophecies.
With Agency Inputs
First Published: Wednesday, December 19, 2012, 12:32