Unfettered online hate speech fuels Islamophobia in China

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Source: Associated Press

By GERRY SHIH

HEFEI, China (AP) — The flood of angry anti-Muslim rhetoric on social media was the first sign of how fiercely the suburban middle-class homeowners in this central China city opposed a planned mosque in their neighborhood. It quickly escalated into something more sinister.

Soon a pig’s head was buried in the ground at the future Nangang mosque, the culmination of a rally in which dozens of residents hoisted banners and circled the planned building site. Then the mosque’s imam received a text message carrying a death threat: “In case someone in your family dies, I have a coffin for you — and more than one, if necessary.”

“How did things get stirred up to this point?” the imam, Tao Yingsheng, said in a recent interview. “Who had even heard of the Nangang mosque before?”

On the dusty plains of the Chinese heartland, a bitter fight over a mosque exemplifies how a surge in anti-Muslim sentiment online is spreading into communities across China, exacerbating simmering ethnic and religious tensions that have in the past erupted in bloodshed. It’s also posing a dilemma for the ruling Communist Party, which has allowed Islamophobia to fester online for years as part of its campaign to justify security crackdowns in its restive region of Xinjiang.

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1 reply

  1. Muslim powers need to exercise their influence and friendship with Chinese leadership. There is no positive outcome of pushing a minority against the wall. They are not standing up against your government. They just need place of worship. Pushing them to abandon their faith – will not lessen their resolve. This didn’t happen in Russia, wont happen in China.

    Islam will prevail.

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