Xinjiang: Tensions Continue to Rise as China Cracks Down on Religious Schools

Conflicts between ethnic Han Chinese and the Uyghurs, a Turkic minority that has historically inhabited the province are expected to continue as the regional Chinese government announced the closing and subsequent “rescuing” of children from religious schools. The closing of schools not sanctioned by the local government has seen the removal of over 190 children and an additional 85 adults who have been arrested for partaking in illegal religious activity. The search and seizure activities carried out by the government also saw the confiscation of illegal publicity materials, in addition to the forced stop to religious teaching.

The cause for the forced closures is almost certainly due to the surge in violence throughout the region during the last several months. The majority of the attacks on ethnic Han Chinese have been carried out by Uyghurs who have historically professed Islam as their religion, and which have a result have allowed the regional government some leeway in cracking down on Islam throughout the region. Other measures instituted by the regional government have also drawn the ire of the Uyghur populace. The construction of a new bullet train leading to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, has allowed government-fomented relocations of ethnic Han to Xinjiang, and incentives have been offered to those who intermarry with members of the Turkic minority. Though many continue to contend that violence in the region has come about as a result of Chinese oppression, little besides lip service has been done to make the case for more inclusive policies within Xinjiang.

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