Skip to main content

Chinese police in crackdown on 'online jihad'

By Katie Hunt and Feng Ke, CNN
updated 4:21 AM EDT, Wed October 9, 2013
Paramilitary police patrol the streets in the Xinjiang capital earlier this year. .
Paramilitary police patrol the streets in the Xinjiang capital earlier this year. .
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police in Xinjiang arrest 139 people for spreading religious extremism online
  • Arrest comes amid wider crackdown on internet rumors in China
  • Ethnic tensions exist between Han Chinese and predominantly Muslim Uyghurs

(CNN) -- Police in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang have arrested 139 people for spreading religious extremism online, officials and state media said, amid a wider crackdown on internet rumors.

A spokesman for the Xinjiang government, Luo Fuyong, said that local police had gathered around 900 pieces of evidence of online rumor spreading and arrested at least 256 people.

Of those, he said 139 had spread rumors about jihad, or Muslim holy war, mainly through posting videos that showed violent terrorist attacks or taught viewers how to create bombs and explosive devices.

"Jihad and terrorists are the enemy of all human races," Luo said.

Tensions in western China
Urumqi on edge before deadly anniversary

The report did not say whether those arrested were Han Chinese or Uyghurs, a Turkic-speaking predominantly Muslim ethnic group.

The arrests were made from June 26 to August 31 following an outbreak of violence in the remote township, about 250 kilometers southeast of the regional capital Urumqi, that left 35 people dead.

Frequent outbreaks of unrest have hit Xinjiang, a resource-rich region where the arrival of waves of Han Chinese people over the decades has fueled tensions with the Uyghurs.

They complain of discrimination and harsh treatment by security forces, despite official promises of equal rights and ethnic harmony.

Beijing has found it useful to portray such tensions as the result of outside interference, attempting to cast separatists as part of a global terror network since the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, said Nicholas Dynon, a researcher at Macquarie University in Australia.

This strategy undermines sympathies at home and abroad for legitimate grievances of the Uyghurs, he added.

"Conflating international terrorism with domestic separatism is way for Chinese authorities to leverage support for their own issues."

The arrests in Xinjiang come amid a nationwide crackdown on online rumors that critics have said is a way for the government to squash dissent.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:51 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
David McKenzie meets some American teenagers who are spending a year in China to be fully immersed in the culture.
updated 9:59 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
Chinese students show a handmade red ribbon one day ahead of the the World AIDS Day, at a school in Hanshan, east China's Anhui province on November 30, 2009.
The Chinese government pledges to protect a boy with HIV, who was shunned by his entire village in Sichuan, state media reported.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
A Chinese couple allegedly threw hot water on a flight attendant and threatened to blow up the plane.
updated 12:03 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
China's 1.3 billion citizens may soon find it much harder to belt out their national anthem at will.
updated 7:21 PM EST, Tue December 9, 2014
Los Angeles in the last century went through its own smog crisis. The city's mayor says LA's experience delivers valuable lessons for Beijing.
updated 12:42 AM EST, Sat December 6, 2014
At the height of his power, security chief Zhou Yongkang controlled China's police, spy agencies and courts. Now, he's under arrest.
updated 3:26 AM EST, Fri December 5, 2014
China says it will end organ transplants from executed prisoners but tradition means that donors are unlikely to make up the shortfall.
updated 1:48 AM EST, Fri December 5, 2014
China's skylines could look a lot more uniform in the years to come, if a statement by a top Beijing official is to believed.
updated 3:55 AM EST, Wed December 3, 2014
Despite a high-profile anti-corruption drive, China's position on an international corruption index has deteriorated in the past year.
updated 7:01 AM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
A daring cross-border raid by one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's associates has -- so far -- yet to sour Sino-Russian relations.
updated 7:51 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
A 24-hour bookstore in Taipei is a popular hangout for both hipsters and bookworms.
updated 8:53 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
China is building an island in the South China Sea that could accommodate an airstrip, according to IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.
updated 5:57 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
North Korean refugees and defectors face a daunting journey to reach asylum in South Korea, with gangs of smugglers the only option.
updated 6:19 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
China and "probably one or two other" countries have the capacity to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructure.
ADVERTISEMENT