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China is educating, not mistreating, Muslims: Chinese official

Li Xiaojun, director for publicity at the Bureau of Human Rights Affairs of the State Council Information Office, said the Chinese education centres were not “detention centres or re-education camps”, which he dismissed as “the trademark product of eastern European countries”.

world Updated: Sep 13, 2018 19:31 IST
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Uighurs,Uighurs Muslims,China
A Muslim man arriving at the Id Kah Mosque for morning prayer during Eid al-Fitr in Kashgar in China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region on June 26, 2017.(AFP File Photo)

China is not mistreating Muslims in Xinjiang province but is putting some people through training courses to avoid extremism spreading, unlike Europe which had failed to deal with the problem, a Chinese official told reporters on Thursday.

Reports of mass detentions of ethnic Uighurs and other ethnic Muslims in China’s far western region have prompted a growing international outcry, prompting the Trump administration to consider sanctions against officials and companies linked to allegations of human rights abuses.

“It is not mistreatment,” said Li Xiaojun, director for publicity at the Bureau of Human Rights Affairs of the State Council Information Office. “What China is doing is to establish professional training centres, educational centres.”

“If you do not say it’s the best way, maybe it’s the necessary way to deal with Islamic or religious extremism, because the West has failed in doing so, in dealing with religious Islamic extremism. Look at Belgium, look at Paris, look at some other European countries. You have failed.”

He said the Chinese education centres were not “detention centres or re-education camps”, which he dismissed as “the trademark product of eastern European countries”, an apparent reference to Soviet Gulag detention camps during the Cold War.

“To put it straight, it’s like vocational training ... like your children go to vocational training schools to get better skills and better jobs after graduation.

“But these kind of training and education centres only accept people for a short period of time – some people five days, some seven days, 10 days, one month, two months.”

Islam was a good thing in China’s view, but Islamic extremists were the common foes of mankind, he said.

“They are very bad elements. You can see that in Afghanistan, in Syria, in Pakistan, in Iraq, and many other countries.”

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

First Published: Sep 13, 2018 19:31 IST