Database Entry: In Xinjiang, a Call to Report Extremism - and Long Beards
Religious Persecution Pretexts for Detention Civilian Informants

In Xinjiang, a Call to Report Extremism - and Long Beards

April 30, 2014
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“Intelligence information” is the “essential factor” in safeguarding citizens’ lives and property, the Shayar County government in the far-western region of Xinjiang has said, announcing rewards ranging from 50 to 50,000 renminbi ($8 to $8,000) to anyone who reports people planning violent attacks or hoarding guns and bullets, men growing long beards, women wearing veils or youths under 18 visiting a mosque. Such activities are considered signs of Muslim extremism by officials who are grappling with rising violence in the region that is home to ethnic Uighurs, a mostly Sunni Muslim, Turkic-speaking people.

Reporting on a party member entering a mosque or someone “growing a long beard” could bring a reward, as would reporting on someone traveling to “outside areas” to read “the scriptures,” it continued.

Other causes for suspicion were currency inscribed with rebellious slogans; the presence of a “foreigner”; the disappearance of a neighbor or a child dropping out of school; growing or using marijuana, Ecstasy or heroin, and hoarding gasoline or chemicals that could used to make incendiary devices. In all, 53 categories were listed.

The announcement came the same week that Radio Free Asia reported that dozens of men and women were detained in the village of Gulboyi near Turpan in eastern Xinjiang for wearing veils or other traditional Islamic clothing or having beards.

Earlier this year, according to foreign diplomats, officials in Turpan conducted a major public education campaign asserting that wearing a veil or growing a long beard were signs of extremism.