Chinese Muslims should oppose religious extremism and not blindly follow foreign doctrine, said China’s top religious official according to state media reports.
Speaking at a national congress of Muslims that began on Saturday in Beijing, Wang Zuoan, chief of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, said Chinese Muslims should “firmly resist the penetration of religious extremism” and “always keep to the direction of developing Islam with Chinese characteristics”, said a report on the administration’s website.
Wang said Muslims’ beliefs and customs should be respected, but that religious interference in politics, justice or education was intolerable, Xinhua reported.
Addressing some 300 Muslim leaders at the congress, Wang said their followers should not simply follow the leadership of a foreign religion or treat foreign values as exemplary, China Daily reported.
China has an estimated 20 million Muslims. Many of them live in the northwestern provinces of Xinjiang, Ningxia, Gansu and Qinghai.
China’s vast Muslim world has come under a media spotlight in recent years after a series of deadly attacks in Xinjiang, home to more than 10 million Uygurs.
Beijing has blamed the violence on jihadis influenced by extremism who are seeking the independence of Xinjiang. But critics say Beijing’s suppression of religious freedom in the region is behind the attacks.
Global Times, affiliated with People’s Daily, reported on Thursday that Xinjiang residents were now required to hand their passports over to local police. Those who want to travel abroad need to apply for permission under a “passport management policy”.
The report has been removed from Global Times’ website.