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18th Party Congress

The Chinese Communist Party's 18th Congress, held in Beijing November 8-14, 2012, marked a key power transition in China. A new generation of leaders, headed by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, took over from the previous leadership headed by Hu Jintao. The Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee was reduced in number from nine to seven. Unlike his predecessor Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao handed over both the Party General Secretary and Chairman of the Central Military Commission positions to Xi.  

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XINJIANG

There is no ban on Uygur dress, police deputy says at congress

Xinjiang policeman explains Muslim practices discouraged, not banned

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2012, 4:35am
 

Muslim head coverings and long beards are "kind of passé", a deputy police chief from Xinjiang's Kashgar prefecture said this week when explaining why authorities discouraged such practices among Uygurs, who make up 40 per cent of the region's population.

But Kurex Kanjir, a Uygur who is also a member of the Xinjiang delegation to the Communist Party's 18th national congress, said there was "absolutely no ban" on Uygurs wearing traditional Islamic dress.

Some Uygurs and human rights groups have blamed policies enacted by the region's Han-dominated government - which they say suppresses religious freedom - for sparking riots in the autonomous region.

Residents of the southern Xinjiang city of Hotan said a policy of discouraging women from wearing traditional black Islamic robes was one of the main triggers for a deadly attack on a police station in July last year that resulted in the deaths of at least 18 people.

"We have never said people cannot wear traditional ethnic dress," Kurex Kanjir said on the sidelines of the congress on Sunday. "But we are now in a civilised society and we hope to use modern culture to guide a somehow backward culture. It is something not to be forced, but something to be achieved through guidance."

His remarks follow a row triggered last year by a notice issued by a local government in Xinjiang that asked Uygurs, who are mostly Muslim, not to wear Arab dress, grow beards or cover their faces with veils.

The controversial notice was issued by the authorities in Yining's Dunmaili district in December in a bid to "dilute religious consciousness", a euphemism for the simmering ethnic tensions in restive southern Xinjiang. Nearly half of the city's population is Uygur.

The notice, first posted on the district's official website, was deleted following media reports. A spokeswoman for the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region said at that time that she was not aware of the policy.

Government-linked experts said wearing veils, black robes and even growing beards were not part of the religious or cultural traditions of southern Xinjiang and had only become a local phenomenon recently.

Pan Zhiping, a specialist in Central Asian affairs at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said the number of Uygurs wearing veils, black robes and sporting long beards had grown following ethnic clashes that swept Kashgar and the regional capital, Urumqi, in 2009, claiming 197 lives and injuring 2,000.

But some Uygurs in southern Xinjiang disagreed, saying such forms of dress had a long history in the area and were widely respected.

Pan said: "This is a very delicate issue and there is no law telling people what to wear or how to dress in the country. While it is plausible for the authorities to suspect there may have been some hidden forces inside and outside Xinjiang plotting against the government, it is of utmost importance for them to distinguish ordinary people from those potential trouble-makers."

Jiang Zhaoyong, a Beijing-based expert on ethnic issues, said the authorities should exercise caution to avoid fanning religious tensions among the Uygurs or being seen as cracking down on them simply because of their ethnicity or religious beliefs.

Kurex Kanjir said he was confident that, with Beijing's support, local authorities could maintain peace and security in Kashgar.

"I can say it is in the best situation in history and even better than many other major cities," he said, crediting Beijing's massive investment in Xinjiang to boost the region's economy following the 2009 riots.

"Only a few people carry out antisocial and anti-human activities … and they are hated by all peoples in Xinjiang. And to be honest, we are fully able to bring them under control."

Additional reporting by Shi Jiangtao

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This article is now closed to comments

ericrufinosiah
Religion is between oneself and the Creator,if one believes and if one thinks that by the way he/she
dressed you are not anything closer but only creates an environment of distrust and should you
fell out of favour with the people around around then don't complaint about discrimmation and etcas first and foremost you asked for it.
yuuzan
"But we are now in a civilised society and we hope to use modern culture to guide a somehow backward culture.
This is truly an arrogant, chauvinistic and imperial mindset. How about respecting cultural differences? If anything will tear China apart, it's the Party's misguided policies and lack of respect for local cultures.
likingming
Not comparable with the total-ban of burqa in France
yuuzan
Weak comparison. Xinjiang is a traditional Muslim area where the majority of the local population practises Islam, France is not.
sudouest
How does being a majority or minority has in anyway, a factor in determining the laws, unless you are trying to win votes by the number ? There's even Muslim ghettos and Muslim towns all over the globe. Since they are majority there, should the laws be any different than the rest of the country ?
Sikhs carry daggers or the kirpans. That's a religious thing and mandatory. Why aren't we respecting their rights on the plane ? In the schools ? Should I allow kirpans for planes bound for the South Asia (majority passengers may be Sikhs) and not allow them through East Asia ?
While I do not agree with how Kurex Kanjir puts it, there must be mutual understanding. We need to adapt or reform as we progress in time.
Sunny
The article said: "We have never said people cannot wear traditional ethnic dress," Kurex Kanjir said on the sidelines of the congress on Sunday. "But we are now in a civilised society and we hope to use modern culture to guide a somehow backward culture. It is something not to be forced, but something to be achieved through guidance."
Yes, we are living in a modern, civilised culture now where poor human rights, suppressed freedom of thought and beliefs, and corrupted governments practicing kleptocracy is also ‘backwards’ too, right?
Don’t miss the year’s most important documentary. Essential viewing for everyone.
aiweiweineversorry.com
scmpbeijing1
The fact is that Uyghurs can dress pretty much as they like, except in some cities where local officials ban the use of dopas, or Uyghur Muslim hats, and veils. But all government employees are banned from having beards, wearing dopas and veils, and of even attending religious services. Government employees, even low ranking ones, are forced to eat food during the Ramadan fast. One high school teacher told me that people attending the National People's Congress are encouraged to wear minority outfits, but he can't wear anything like that in his school in Hetan.
chaz_hen
CCP "soft power":
making friends and influencing people for over 60 years...
Sunny
Nah, that should be: the art of ‘making enemies and demoralizing people for over 60 years…’
The CCP doesn’t have any true friends in the world, except possibly North Korea and Iran. In their spare time, they probably hang out in passionate nuclear missile conventions.
likingming
Luckly, the CCP doesn't have the enemies of the terrorist for the States.

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