the shenzhen anti-terrorism campaign

Although China has been strengthening its anti-terrorism campaign over the past year or so, the Shenzhen anti-terrorism campaign is recent. Ideologically, the campaign promotes a Neo-Confucian message of family first–a value that terrorists are purported not to share. Unfortunately, terrorists are more or less consistently represented as Muslim. In fact, the stereotypes used in the campaign are familiar from conversations I’ve had with friends over the past decade, when I have been told that Islam is not a religion but a terrorist organization. More alarmingly, as in the United States, Chinese anti-terrorism feeds anti Muslim sentiments and justifies increasing militarization of public life. Sigh.

Of note: the May 22, 2014 attack (in which men in ski masks jumped out of two vans to attack people in Urumqi) has become the stereotype of terrorist attack in the campaign. The following Inside Story by Aljazeera attempts to understand the increasingly violent situation.

One thought on “the shenzhen anti-terrorism campaign

  1. I think racism rather than religion plays a role in constructing such stereotypes against Uyghur.

    “Muslim” can be translated to Chinese as either 回教徒 and/or 穆斯林.

    The former usually refers to 回民 or 回族 (Hui), an ethnic group of Mongloid/yellow race that associates itself with Islam and physically looks no different from the mainstream Han people. Many of them have culturally assimilated into and intermarried with mainstream Chinese (of course, mainly Han people), making them and sometimes their descendants culturally and racially more homogeneous with the Chinese, as many of them do not pass their religious belief down the family lineage. The same process of Sinification (汉化) also acts as a melting pot to assimilate and homogenise many minor ethnic groups, prominently Manchus, Mongolian, Chaoxianzu/Korean, Zhuang and others already living within the China proper. One of the most famous Hui person was the first defense minister of Republic of China, Pai Chung-hsi.

    The latter word, 穆斯林, as you can tell from its “exotic” morphology and non-Chinese etymology, refers to “Islamic peoples” from “outside the western border of China proper” (西域) that do not look alike with “Chinese”, including peoples and nations such as the Arabic, Persian, Pakistani, Uyghurs and other Central Asians. The rise of the stereotype linking Uyghurs with terrorism seems to occur in the recent decade or two, and I think such bias was constructed by Western media that often juxtaposed “terrorist”, “radicalist”, “extermist” in junction with “Islamist”, “Islamic” or “Muslim” and Chinese media that often blamed East Turkestan or “a minority of religious extremists” for massive violent incidents or “terrorism” and suggested their connection with Al-Qaeda.

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