According to a recent report by Radio Free Asia, at least 17 assailants, armed with knives, attacked a group of Han Chinese coal miners in Baicheng, Xinjiang Provence, China. By morning, more than 50 people had been killed and dozens wounded.
The September attack was the latest in a long series of aggressions, and the attackers, whom authorities suspect to be ethnic Uighurs, all escaped into the Tianshan Mountains, near the borders of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
Radio Free Asia cited a Baicheng official as suggesting the attackers were seeking vengeance for their families who had been punished for violating strict regulations on the practice of Islam.
The regulations, such as barring women from veiling their faces and barring men from sporting long beards, were implemented by local authorities in an effort to combat religious extremism in a region with a significant Muslim population.
Despite living in a so-called “autonomous region”, the Muslim Uighurs of Xinjiang have long been persecuted, but China denies the allegations, maintaining that it guarantees religious freedom, and recognises five major religious groups — Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism and Protestantism.
However, those who worship must do so under the watchful eye of patriotic religious associations, who impose strict government controls such as the removal of crosses and the crackdown on underground churches.
It is these strict government controls on Islam, along with dwindling economic opportunities for Uighurs, which are blamed for the increase in social unrest and violence in the Xinjiang province, and which go against China’s own edicts on religious freedom.
While it may never be known whether or not these latest attacks were inspired by inhumane treatment or motivated by economic factors, what is sure is that further government restrictions will only result in more attacks, greater radicalisation, and continued instability in this isolated region of China.
- Pray for the Muslim Uighurs in China, who daily battle with harsh restriction and controls, face the threat of imprisonment and struggle to find work or to provide for their families. Pray that many will have encounter with Jesus, through dreams and visions, and come to know His life, love and freedom.
- Pray for the Chinese government to allow freedom of worship for religious minorities, and for Christians in China who also face ongoing persecution and restrictions.
- Pray for peace in the Xinjiang province, for access to this region for Christians workers, and for the spread of the Gospel to China’s Muslim population.
2 Corinthians 3 vs 17: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
Source: http://foreignpolicyblogs.com, http://www.persecution.org