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China Targets Halal Products In Fight Against 'Extremism'

Dozens of ethnic Kazakh families are desperate for news about family members who have have been detained and sent to reeducation camps in China.

Chinese authorities have launched a campaign against halal products to stop Islam penetrating secular life and fueling "extremism" in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, where Muslim indigenous ethnic groups of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and Hui (Dungans) are facing religious restrictions.

Halal -- Arabic for "permissible" -- refers to a set of rules guiding Muslims on what is allowed to be used as food or for personal hygiene items, according to Islam.

Beijing has in recent years launched a security crackdown in the region against what it calls separatist elements, and a UN report has cited estimates that up to 1 million Muslims are held in extrajudicial, political reeducation camps.

A Communist Party leader in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital, asked officials on October 8 to vow to have no religion, except for Marxist ideology, and to only speak Mandarin Chinese in public.

In an article posted on the city's official WeChat social-media account, party cadres were told to post the same oath on their social-media accounts, which included disowning religion.

"My belief is Marxism-Leninism... I must fly the flag high and battle [the] 'pan-halal trend' to the end, resolute in my beliefs, even to death!" the oath reads.

Government officials should also not have dietary restrictions, the statement said, adding that work canteens would be changed so officials can try "cuisines of various nationalities."

Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim indigenous ethnic groups in Xinjiang are subject to strict regulations banning beards and burqas, and many have been detained in reeducation camps for offenses as minor as making contact with family members outside the country or sharing Islamic holiday greetings on social media, a UN report said in August.

Based on reporting by dpa and AFP
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