Non-smokers are ‘religious fanatics’

Non-smokers are ‘religious fanatics’

A Communist Party official in Xinjiang province has made an astonishing claim: Muslims who eschew smoking are exhibiting ‘a form of religious extremism’.

According to this report, Adil Sulayman made the claim when Chinese authorities ordered Muslim shopkeepers and restaurant owners in the village of Aktash in its troubled Xinjiang region to sell alcohol and cigarettes, and promote them in “eye-catching displays”.

This was part of an attempt to undermine Islam’s hold on local residents. Many local shopkeepers had stopped selling alcohol and cigarettes from 2012 “because they feared public scorn,” while many locals had decided to comply with the Koran and abstain from drinking and smoking.

Sulayman said authorities in Xinjiang viewed ethnic Uighurs, who did not smoke as adhering to “a form of religious extremism.” They issued the order to counter growing religious sentiment that was “affecting stability,” he said.

pictured in Xinjiang province

Uighurs pictured praying in Xinjiang province

Establishments that failed to comply were threatened with closure and their owners with prosecution.

Facing widespread discontent over its repressive rule in the mainly Muslim province of Xinjiang, and mounting violence in the past two years, China has launched a series of “strike hard” campaigns to weaken the hold of Islam in the western region.

Government employees and children have been barred from attending mosques or observing the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

In many places, women have been barred from wearing face-covering veils, and men discouraged from growing long beards.

Sulayman said:

We have a campaign to weaken religion here, and this is part of that campaign.

The notice ordered all restaurants and supermarkets in Aktash to sell five different brands of alcohol and cigarettes and display them prominently. It declared:

Anybody who neglects this notice and fails to act will see their shops sealed off, their businesses suspended, and legal action pursued against them.

Radio Free Asia, which provides some of the only coverage of events in Xinjiang to escape strict Chinese government controls, said Hotan prefecture, where Aktash is located, had become:

A hotbed of violent stabbing and shooting incidents between ethnic Uighurs and Chinese security forces.

China says Uighur militant groups based abroad are using the Internet to inspire local Muslims to take up violent jihad against the state. Critics say China’s long repression of Uighur rights and nationalist sentiment has pushed people toward Islam as the only permitted assertion of their community’s identity, and pushed a minority toward a violent form of Islam.

Clumsy attempts to promote alcohol or forbid beards and veils may prove counterproductive, they warn.

James Leibold, an expert on China’s ethnic policies at Melbourne’s La Trobe University, said Chinese officials were “often flailing around in the dark” when tackling extremism. An acute lack of understanding leads them to focus on visible, but imprecise, perceptions of radicalism such as long beards, veils and sobriety, he said.

The result is often “crude forms of ethno-cultural profiling,” Leibold said.

These sorts of mechanistic and reactive policies only serve to inflame ethno-national tension without addressing the root causes of religious extremism, while further alienating the mainstream Uighur community, making them feel increasingly unwelcome within a hostile, Han-dominated society.

Sulayman said around 60 shops and restaurants in the area had complied with the government order, and there were no reports of protests.

But in an unrelated incident in neighboring Qinghai province recently, an angry crowd of Muslims smashed windows of a supposedly halal cake shop in Xining city, after pork sausages and ham were found in a delivery van.

12 responses to “Non-smokers are ‘religious fanatics’”

  1. Newspaniard says:

    Okaaaayyyy… They might be doing it crudely and without much finesse but they are having a go at islamic extremism unlike the UK. From what I hear, banning smoking in the UK has cost the treasury billions in fag tax (sorry, Americans, I meant cigarette tax). They are losing multiple times the amount the NHS spent on lung cancer treatment. If the Chancellor REALLY wants to get the deficit down, he should ignore the anti-smoking Nazis and ENCOURAGE people to take up the weed and seriously look at cannabis too.
    Just sayin’
    (In passing, I am an ex-smoker & an ex-drinker)

  2. L.Long says:

    And as the ‘NICE’ people in USA that claim the muslins are NICE people and would NEVER force their dumb-assed sorry-ass-law on anyone once they gain enough numbers, I say, Hope you enjoy being threatened and persecuted once they do move into your areas.
    This is a perfect example of ‘I can’t do this and neither can you’ religious BS.

  3. dennis says:

    I am so conflicted by this, smoking is not just bad for the smoker but the second hand smoke is just as repugnant to see in the air, not just its harmful health issues. secular states have got to find a way of dealing with control mechanisms better than this. obvious, so dennis the answer is? Hell I don’t know I am just conflicted by this hole tit for tat idea of government and religion.

  4. L.Long says:

    There is a big difference between banning something because it unhealthy FOR EVERYONE and banning for your religious BS. So smoking -ban it in public areas OK…Eating pork??? or Alcohol??? or other drugs???
    I can make health benefits claims for these and they cause no direct harm to others as does smoking.

  5. L.Long says:

    Oh Yes I also forgot ….
    Selling anything has NEVER been shown to be unhealthy to ANYONE!!!!
    So if a seller wants to cater to customers then religious BS is just BS!!!

  6. Megamoya says:

    What about non-smokers who ain’t muslim? (Or religious at all,either). Are we “religious fanatics” too?
    Either way, in this case the actual religious fanatics (sorry for the redundancy) are right for all the badong reasons.

  7. Cali Ron says:

    I’m not sure who is making me laugh more, the Chinese government for thinking making shops carry cigs and booze will weaken islamic fanaticism or the muslims for letting religion tell them what they can or can’t do. Maybe they deserve each other. It’s a tough call for the chinese because the only way to truly fight islam is through education, but educating the ethnic minority Uighur’s might make them harder to indoctrinate into communism. I predict more violence and propaganda (very safe prediction, I’m sure).

  8. John the Drunkard says:

    I think the Chinese government derives considerable revenue from the alcohol and tobacco trade. I recall that Japan resisted evidence about tobacco and health for decades because of the enormous amount of money the government was raking in.

    Still, if the Uighurs are such good muslims. They can carry the stuff right out where the government insists, and NOT buy any!

  9. jay says:

    As a lifetime non smoker, I still feel the anti-smoking crowd (and the government propaganda wars) goes way over the top and borders on fanaticism. Same with vegans.

  10. Trevor Blake says:

    Quran 16:67 – “And of the fruits of the date-palm, and grapes, whence ye derive strong drink and (also) good nourishment. Lo! therein is indeed a portent for people who have sense.”

    What is compulsory or forbidden in religion is based on who is willing to commit physical violence, social opprobrium or economic hardship to those who think differently. Internal consistency, much less truth, has little to do with it.

  11. Marky Mark says:

    To the non-smokers here…Smoking cigarettes is a horrible addiction and the tobacco corporations have know this for decades, spending billions to addict more and more smokers at even younger ages. Than they manipulated the nicotine levels so the already addicted smokers would smoke more and more.

    No smoking in public= “Good”, as it does endanger non-smokers.
    Banning smoking all together, (Especially with religious beliefs) =”Bad”, as these addicts will go through great lengths to satisfie this addiction, so, a rehab program must be installed. If this rehabilitation is left up to religious folks it would only consist of praying to their god, and no help what-so-ever for the nicotine addict.