China makes it harder for its Muslim citizens to go to Mecca, or anywhere else

China is intensifying its efforts to prevent its Muslim citizens from undertaking the Hajj, a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca, through increased surveillance and restrictions on travel.

The problem: China has been making it increasingly difficult for its Muslim residents to go on Hajj.
* While on their trip to Mecca, a group of six Chinese Muslims reported fears of having their passports confiscated or being punished upon their return to China.
* Chinese authorities have been restricting practicing religions and have severely cracked down on Christianity and Islam.

Why it’s happening: Concerns about religious radicalization have caused Chinese authorities to lessen travel permissions for Muslim citizens.
* The government is cutting off almost all exit pathways for Muslims, citing fears that these travelers might be radicalized abroad or increase religious fervor in China upon their return.
* Authorities are surveilling and stopping travelers bound for Islamic countries and bullying pilgrims already abroad to return home. Private Hajj arrangements falling outside of state-authorized tours have caused some to be detained or arrested when they return to China.

The hurdles: Obtaining passports and organizing travel arrangements present major challenges.
* Chinese authorities have been restricting new passport issuances; the Muslim population, estimated at between 20 million and 30 million, faces particular hardship in this regard.
* Authorities in the northwestern Chinese province of Qinghai reportedly halt new passport issuances for Uyghur or Hui residents, who are primarily Muslims. This measure reflects controls put in place in the western Xinjiang region where passports began to be confiscated from Uyghur citizens in 2016, a year before a widespread detention campaign targeting largely Uyghur communities.

Impact on believers: Despite the government crackdown and surveillance, Muslim believers are finding ways to undertake their pilgrimage.
* The group of six pilgrims interviewed by NPR (National Public Radio) managed to secure their travel documents three years earlier by applying through a passport office several hundred miles from Qinghai province.
* They didn’t fly directly to Saudi Arabia but used an indirect route to avoid raising suspicion, dressed in athletic gear, and repeatedly fibbed about their intent for travel throughout their journey.

The aftermath: Once the pilgrimage is completed, the ordeal is not over as punitive consequences often await them at home.
* Even after leaving China, Hajj travelers continue to receive threatening phone calls from local police officers demanding they return immediately.
* The group of six pilgrims that NPR interviewed had to remove the batteries from their Chinese smartphones, for fear that their movements could be tracked by security officials in China or they would receive more threatening phone calls.

These actions underscore China’s efforts to control religious participation and expression among its Muslim citizens, both within China and beyond its borders. At the same time, it highlights the resilience and determination of faith believers to fulfill their religious duties despite the government’s draconic measures.

View original article on NPR

This summary was created by an AI system. The use of this summary is subject to our Terms of Service.

Contact us about this post






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *