In a latest incident in the crackdown on Uyghur Muslims in China, the authorities have detained a Muslim woman for retweeting social media posts quoting Quranic verses.
According to reports, the 26-year-old member of the mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic group was detained in Korla city on last week after forwarding posts that carried devotional Islamic messages, including quoting from Muslim scripture and praising Allah.
However, an employee at a government-backed extremism watchdog claimed that there were “extremist religious content that people not allowed to repost,” Radio Free Asia reported.
“People who read this sort of extremist content can undergo personality changes over the long term, so if we don’t nip it in the bud, she could become unrecognizable,” the governemnt official said adding that the severity of the woman’s punishment would depend on which laws she was judged to have broken.
However, asked if such content is believed by China to be linked to terrorism, the official declined to comment.
“I can't read out all of our requirements from this document for you; it's a classified document,” the employee said. “I can't tell you all of it.”
She is now being held under criminal detention on suspicion of promoting “extremist religious thought,” sources in the region told RFA.
However, spokesman for the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress group representing the Turkic-speaking ethnic group, said the woman could be framed for serious charges, under the recent government policy “targeting every aspect of Uyghurs’ religious lives.”
“I fear that this woman may be severely punished for incitement to extreme religious thinking in the current climate that is extremely repressive of Islam,” spokesman for the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress, Dilxat Raxit, said.
While China blames Uyghur Muslims for ‘terrorist attacks’ in the country, experts outside China say Beijing has exaggerated the threat from the Uyghurs and that repressive domestic policies are responsible for an upsurge in violence there that has left hundreds dead since 2009.