Beijing: China is known for adopting harsh measures when it comes to making its citizens follow the state policies. Unperturbed by criticism of being human rights violator, China has come up with its own way of clamping down on religious extremism in the far western region of Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur people.
Hundreds of people have died in recent years in Xinjiang in unrest blamed by Beijing on Islamist militants and separatists, though rights groups say the violence is more a reaction to repressive Chinese policies.
The government strongly denies committing any abuses in Xinjiang and insists the legal, cultural and religious rights of Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group, are fully protected.
Pakistan, the all-weather ally of China, has chosen to stay mum on the ordeal of Muslims in Xinjiang.
Here are a range of measures, from increased surveillance to strict controls of Muslim activities, implemented by China in Xinjiang:
- In some cities in Xinjiang, people wearing headscarves and beards have been banned from riding buses.
- Three times a day, alarms ring out through the streets of China's ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, and shopkeepers rush out of their stores swinging government-issued wooden clubs. In mandatory anti-terror drills conducted under police supervision, they fight off imaginary knife-wielding assailants. Armoured paramilitary and police vehicles circle with sirens blaring.
- Shopkeepers must, at their own expense, instal password-activated security doors, "panic buttons" and cameras that film not just the street outside but also inside their stores, sending a direct video feed to police.
- Education rules say parents or guardians cannot "organise, lure or force minors into attending religious activities". They are also not permitted to promote extremist beliefs in children, or force them to dress in extremist clothing or other symbols.
- In Xinjiang, weekly flag-raising ceremonies are held. Uighurs are required to attend to denounce religious extremism and pledge fealty under the Chinese flag during the ceremonies.
- News agency Reuters reported that at one such event in Hotan, over 1,000 people filed onto an open-air basketball court where Party officials checked their names against an attendance list and inspected their dress and appearance.
- Hotan authorities offer CNY 2,000 (USD 290) rewards for those who report "face coverings and robes, youth with long beards, or other popular religious customs that have been radicalised".