Chinese authorities in the Xinjiang region of the country’s West have banned citizens from practicing religion in any state-owned entities. Because China is a Communist country, the law, which will take effect on January 1, 2015, likely pertains to all property.
Additionally, the Communist Party will dole out heavy fines for religiously-motivated Internet posts that have been determined to “undermine national unity.” The penalty for violating the newly established Internet and mobile communications laws could result in a fine as high as $5,000 dollars.
“An increasing number of problems involving religious affairs have emerged in Xinjiang,” an official in the Xinjiang People’s Congress was quoted saying in state media.
The law specifically mentions that videos showing jihad or holy war may not be viewed or distributed in any manner.
The move comes shortly after what state media reported as a terrorist attack on Friday at a food market in Xinjiang. Chinese police eventually eliminated the threat, neutralizing the 11 attackers. Officials said the Islamists were equipped with explosives, knives, and axes.
Xinjiang is home to the vast majority of China’s 11-million-strong Uyghur ethnic minority, most of whom follow Islam. China has in the past attempted to lower its Uyghur population by promoting intermarriage with the country’s ethnic majority.
Over the past year, several instances of Islamic terrorism were carried out in Xinjiang, resulting in hundreds of casualties.
Some connections have been drawn between China’s radical element in its Uyghur population and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a jihadi group which has backing from al-Qaeda. ETIM is reportedly headquartered in the Waziristan region of Pakistan, a known hotbed for Islamist terrorists.