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China blames media for OIC chief's Xinjiang remarks

OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu's remarks asking China to address "other concerns" of the restive Xinjiang's Uyghur Muslim population, along with economic growth, drew a sharp reaction from the government which accused the media of distorting his remarks.

world Updated: Jun 22, 2010 16:30 IST
PTI

OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu's remarks asking China to address "other concerns" of the restive Xinjiang's Uyghur Muslim population, along with economic growth, drew a sharp reaction from the government which accused the media of distorting his remarks.

Secretary General of Organisation of Islamic Conference Ihsanoglu, who had visited the Xinjiang region, which witnessed widespread riots last year, said before his departure today that China should also pay attention to the cultural development of Muslims of the province.

The ethnic riots in July last year killed nearly 200 people and were largely believed to be the result of years of unrest among the majority Uyghur population against government's hardline policies and largescale settlement of Han Chinese.

"We hope development on the cultural field will go hand in hand with the economic field," he said replying to a question. His carefully worded comments came as Xinjiang braced to observe the first anniversary of the July 5 riots which were put down with heavy hand by the Chinese government.

China accuses the World Uyghur Congress, and its US based leader Rebiaya Kadeer of instigating the riots in Xinjiang -- home of eight million Uyghurs of Turkish origin.

Asked for a reaction, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a media briefing here that Ihsanoglu who met the Chinese leaders and officials had appreciated the socio-economic progress made by Xinjiang.

He said some journalists had asked questions in such a way that prompted Ihsanoglu to come out with such a reply. "He fairly appreciated social economic development (in) Xinjiang... some journalists were trying to raise the questions that backs him to answer it that way. I am asking you to take note of how the question was asked. "We call on journalists to report in a fair and objective way," he said.

He said over the past years Xinjiang has achieved remarkable progress in socio and economic development which is widely recognised. During his visit,Ihsanoglu, representing the world's largest Muslim bloc did some tightrope walking, refraining from making comments that remotely criticised Chinese actions in Xinjiang, where Uyghurs of Turkish-origin have resented efforts to settle people from the majority Han community. Following the riots that shook the Chinese government, a series of measures were initiated to improve the situation in Xinjiang.

First Published: Jun 22, 2010 16:28 IST