Source: The Washington Post
During the National People’s Congress in March, top officials from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, a Muslim-majority area in northwest China, warned political leaders that terrorist activities threatened to destabilize China.
In February, citing concerns about terrorist activities, authorities implemented new rules in Xinjiang requiring car owners to install GPS devices to ascertain vehicle movements. Xinjiang also implemented a ban on burqas, veils and “abnormal beards” this year, a move officials say is to combat “extremism” among the Uighur ethnic minority, a Muslim group concentrated in the region.
What does this harsh official rhetoric mean for China’s estimated 23 million Muslims — 10 million of whom live in Xinjiang? China’s Muslims make up less than 2 percent of the Chinese population — the Han majority, in contrast, make up about 92 percent of the population, according to China’s 2010 Census.
Anti-Muslim sentiment is on the rise
We analyzed 10 years of news reporting related to Islam on Chinese Central Television (CCTV), the largest of China’s state media outlets. We looked at reporting from 2005 to 2015 to determine how the Chinese government shapes public perception of Muslims in China. To examine the attitude of Chinese non-Muslims toward Islam and Muslims, we also analyzed more than 10,000 posts related to Islam and Muslims on Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, before and after Europe’s 2015 refugee crisis.