Magazine article The Christian Century

China Continues Efforts to Exert Party Control over Religious Groups

Magazine article The Christian Century

China Continues Efforts to Exert Party Control over Religious Groups

Article excerpt

Pastors and a group that monitors religion in China said the government is ratcheting up a crackdown on congregations, while a United Nations committee expressed concerns that Muslims are being detained and tortured.

Under President Xi Jinping, China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, religious believers are seeing their freedoms shrink dramatically even as the country undergoes a religious revival.

Though religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982, there is a campaign to Sinicize religion by demanding loyalty to the officially atheist Communist Party and eliminating any challenge to its power over people's lives.

A recent statement from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said it had received "numerous reports of detention of large numbers of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities held incommunicado and often for long periods, without being charged or tried, under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism."

The committee further cited mass surveillance and police targeting of Uighurs and said that people were being "forced to spend varying periods in political 're-education camps' for even nonthreatening expressions of Muslim ethno-religious culture like daily greetings." The committee stated that there was no official data on the number of people detained, but it ranged upward from tens of thousands! Party officials denied the reports. …

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