URUMQI – In another crackdown on religious freedoms, China has forced the imams of eastern Muslim majority district of Xinjiang to dance in the street, and swear to an oath that they will not teach religion to children as well telling them that prayer is harmful to the soul, the Islamic news outlet OnIslam reports.
During the incident, reported by World Bulletin on Monday, February 9, Muslim imams were forced to brandish the slogan that “our income comes from the CKP not from Allah”.
State Chinese news said the imams were gathering in a square in the name of civilization where they were forced to dance and chant out slogans in support of the state.
The slogans included statements glorifying the state over religion such as ‘peace of the country gives peace to the soul’.
They also gave speeches telling youth to stay away from mosques, and that the prayer was harmful to their health, encouraging them to dance instead.
Female teachers were instructed to teach children to stay away from religious education and made to swear an oath that they will keep children away from religion.
Uighur Muslims are a Turkish-speaking minority of eight million in the northwestern Xinjiang region.
Xinjiang, which activists call East Turkestan, has been autonomous since 1955 but continues to be the subject of massive security crackdowns by Chinese authorities.
Rights groups accuse Chinese authorities of religious repression against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang in the name of counter terrorism.
Last November, Xinjiang banned the practicing of religion in government buildings, as well as wearing clothes or logos associated with religious extremism.
In August, the northern Xinjiang city of Karamay prohibited young men with beards and women in burqas or hijabs from boarding public buses.
Earlier in July, China banned students and government staff from observing Ramadan fasting, as officials tried to encourage locals in Xinjiang not to wear Islamic veils.