'Foreign extremists making inroads into China's Xinjiang'

Islamic extremist forces with global ambitions are trying to penetrate into China's restive Xinjiang region and influence local Muslim Uygur population by spreading radical messages through Internet, legislators from the province have said.

PTI| Updated: Mar 09, 2015, 15:58 PM IST

Beijing: Islamic extremist forces with global ambitions are trying to penetrate into China's restive Xinjiang region and influence local Muslim Uygur population by spreading radical messages through Internet, legislators from the province have said.

Local population in Hotan prefecture in Xinjiang have been influenced by newly-emerged foreign religious extremists, said Eziz Musar, the prefecture's commissioner who is currently here to attend the Chinese legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC).
The extremists' influence is also felt in some other parts of the Xinjiang autonomous region, the home of over 11 million Uygur Muslims.

External extremist forces use the Internet to spread their ideas, fan hatred and propagate terror, Eziz told state-run China Daily.

Their messages are downloaded by a very small group of local people who use different communication tools to pass them on to others, he said.

"Authorities have to put this extremist content on their watch list without delay and enforce the law by accelerating the crackdown on people who spread such illegal information," Eziz said.

Hotan is on Xinjiang's front line in the fight against religious extremism, which has spawned an increasing number of terrorist attacks in the region and other parts of China in recent years.

China blames East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an extremist outfit fighting for the independence of Xinjiang, for a host of violent attack in the province and other parts of China.

Eziz said he will propose in this year's NPC that China enact legislation against extremism.

Merdan Muget, commissioner of southern Xinjiang's Aksu prefecture, said the region must face the stern reality of the newly religious extremist forces from the Middle East trying to reach out to the region, because it has a large Muslim population and some who have not seen major improvements in their daily lives may be vulnerable to their message.

"There will always be new seeds of extremism spreading to Xinjiang one way or another. The key is to make sure the region doesn't have the soil to support their growth," he said.

According to a recent Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences report, villages in underdeveloped corners, where people lack a good basic and religious education, are the most likely targets for extremist penetration.
"We must do our best to provide for the villagers' needs and answer their demands. People are more easily manipulated by the extremists when they are unhappy," said Ismayil Metiniaz, Party chief of Amanxia, a village in east Xinjiang's Shanshan county.

Most of the video and audio propaganda promoting terrorism is brought to his village by outsiders who do not stay long, Ismayil said. "So we provide villagers with lessons about the original spirit of the religion and law," he said.