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Xinjiang bid to curb terrorist attacks

By Cui Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2013-10-09 07:16

Fresh efforts to regulate the spread of religious extremism online

Public security forces in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region have stepped up efforts to regulate the spread of religious extremism online in an effort to curb terrorist attacks.

The Xinjiang Public Security Bureau has handled an increasing number of cases in which individuals have posted or searched for religious extremist content on the Internet during the past three years, an anonymous source at the bureau told Xinjiang Daily.

Some even plot terrorist attacks online and later put their plans into action, the source said, without giving the exact number.

The source also said that most of the people who spread religious extremism online are unemployed and have a limited education no higher than junior high school or even primary school.

From June 26 to Aug 31, 139 people across Xinjiang were arrested for spreading religious extremism including jihad, or what extremist Muslims commonly call "holy war", police said.

Ma Pinyan, a senior anti-terrorism researcher and deputy director of the ethnic and religious study center at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said the penetration of religious extremism in China has led to increased attacks in Xinjiang, so the spread of such information must be curbed.

Xinjiang police said the leader of the gang that carried out an attack on June 26 in Lukqun, Turpan prefecture, which resulted in 35 deaths, arranged for members to watch videos promoting religious extremism.

Police also found that members of a terrorist cell formed in September 2012 in Selibuya, a township in Kashgar prefecture, regularly attended meetings where they viewed and listened to materials relating to religious extremism and terrorism.

They also underwent physical training and learned how to kill by watching videos of terrorist attacks.

Police found knives, combat training materials, illegal religious extremist pamphlets and three jihadist flags after the group killed 15 people in an attack on April 23.

In another recent incident, Kashgar police noticed a large number of video and audio files spreading religious extremism as well as instigating terrorist activities had been uploaded onto the Internet since July 11.

The suspect turned out to be a 17-year-old high school senior from Jiashi county.

The young offender told Xinjiang Daily that he wanted to increase awareness of religion among his classmates.

The contents he posted have been viewed more than 5,100 times and downloaded 1,201 times, according to police, who said the student's understanding of religion has been twisted by religious extremism and violent information.

The student was given 10 days' administrative detention, but as he is a minor and a first-time offender, the punishment was not carried out.

"Young people are easily attracted to, and manipulated by, these websites that contain religious extremist content because they are well produced and in the Uygur language. In comparison, Uygur websites are outdated and can't meet people's demands, especially those of young people," said Adiljon Abrat, a professor at Xinjiang University's school of politics and public relations.

Uygur websites also don't educate people about the law, so many don't know that spreading terror-related information online is illegal, Adiljon added.

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