(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/29/17) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today sent a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping seeking clarification of media reports that officials in the northwestern region of Xinjiang are requiring ethnic minority Muslim families to turn over personal religious items, including prayer mats and copies of the Quran, Islam’s revealed text, to state authorities.
In his letter to President Xi, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote in part:
“We understand that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang has denied these reports, recently telling reporters that, ”˜We hope relevant parties refrain from making groundless allegations and rumors.’
“However, we request that your office further investigate these widespread reports of state confiscation of personal religious items by credible international media outlets. If they are in fact true, then we urge your government to rescind all existing orders and return all religious items already confiscated to their rightful owners. We only seek your government’s assurance that Muslims in China are free to practice their faith.
“This request follows similar past appeals made by CAIR for local authorities in Xinjiang to halt routine state campaigns that suppress Islamic religious practices and local Muslim traditions, which include authorities harassing Muslim men who grow beards and women who wear Islamic attire, bans on fasting during Ramadan, preventing Muslims under the age of 18 from practicing their religion or attending mosques (Islamic houses of worship), and the imposition of heavy fines on families whose children study Islamic texts.
“The Chinese Constitution guarantees freedom of religion to those who practice Islam. As a signatory to the United Nations Charter, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the People’s Republic of China is responsible for ensuring that Muslims in Xinjiang and across China are entitled to equal protection under the law against any state discrimination and against any incitement of discrimination.
“The American Muslim community, which includes Uyghur Americans, respectfully urges the People’s Republic of China to uphold its own laws and international conventions by removing all barriers to religious freedom for the Muslims in Xinjiang, for Muslims throughout China and for the rights of all other people of faith in your nation.”
The Washington-based Muslim civil rights organization also requested a meeting between the Chinese ambassador in Washington, D.C., and representatives of the American Muslim community and other concerned parties to discuss resolution to this important issue.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
La misiÃ³n de CAIR es mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, fomentar el diÃ¡logo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensiÃ³n mutua.
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