January 16, 2017
COMMUNIST CHINA: 'A Christian Woman Was Sentenced To 3 Years In Jail For Holding Bible Study Meeting' In The Western Xinjiang Province Controlled By Uyghurs That Practice Islam.
The Uyghurs are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Today, Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China, where they are one of 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities. They primarily practice Islam.
The ancient Uyghurs believed in Shamanism and Tengrism, then Manichaeism, Buddhism and Church of the East. People in the western Tarim Basin region began to convert to Islam in significant number early in the Kara-Khanid Khanate period. Modern Uyghurs are now primarily Muslim, and they are the second largest Muslim ethnic group in China after the Hui.
The majority of modern Uyghurs are Sunnis, although conflicts exist between Sufi and non-Sufi religious orders. While modern Uyghurs consider Islam to be part of their identity, religious observance varies between different regions. In general, Muslims in the southern region, Kashgar in particular, are more conservative. For example, women wearing the full veil (brown cloth covering the head completely) are more common in Kashgar but may not be found in some other cities. There is also a general split between the Uyghurs and the Hui Muslims in Xinjiang, and they normally worship in different mosques. There had been Christian conversions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries but these were suppressed.
written by Stefan J. Bos
Monday January 2, 2017
BEIJING, CHINA - A local court in China’s western Xinjiang province has reportedly sentenced a Christian woman to three years in prison for holding a Bible study meeting "without government approval" and "gathering a crowd to disturb public order".
Advocacy group ChinaAid said Ma Huichao, who was taken into police custody along with three other Christians, began serving her sentence last week, December 30, after standing trial in mid-November. "Her lawyer Li Dunyong was not allowed to plead innocent on her behalf," ChinaAid said.
The group, which supports Christians in the region, cited a local believer as saying that the Bible study meeting was not a formal gathering as suggested by authorities. "There were no pastors or preachers, only a few people reading the Bible at [Ma's] home. In Urumqi, there are many [Christians] who gather in homes," the Christian reportedly said.
"Why is it possible that they have no problems? [Because the authorities] know very clearly that it is impossible to arrest everyone if they do not gather," added the believer, who wasn't identified apparently amid security concerns.
The Christian stressed that in "those private gatherings, there are no foreigners or cult activities." China's ruling Communist Party forbids Chinese Christians to have contact with Christians from outside the country, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
Christians say the Bible study group and other gathering have been targets because of their reluctance to attend the government-backed Three-Self Church. "There's no way to put them all in jail. Some young police officers don't know anything about religions; they simply think they can win honor for themselves by arresting the believers during gatherings,” the unidentified believer reportedly said.
Ma does not plan to appeal, Christians said.
The Chinese Communist Party has in the past denied any Christian persecution in China. Christians have linked the crackdown to the spread of Christianity in the country which is reportedly seen as a threat to the atheistic philosophy of China's ruling establishment.
There may be as many as 163 million Christians in China, according to the billionbibles.org monitoring website.
Communist officials acknowledge more than 100 million believers in the country, BosNewsLife established. "There are now more Christians in China than in the United States, but this number still represent only about 12 percent of China's 1.4 billion people," the website said. "As large as the Lord's harvest is in China, it has only just begun."
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