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Xinjiang explores new ways to fight terrorism
March 20,2019   By:China Daily
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March 20, 2019 -- Residents make rose jam in a village in Hotan, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, in June. ZHAO GE/XINHUA
 
March 20, 2019 -- On a crisp March day in Kashgar, the biggest city on the western edge of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, men and women danced for hours to traditional music to celebrate the marriage of a young couple. The veiled bride was thrown up in the air repeatedly amid laughter, cheers and songs of best wishes. It was a typical Uygur wedding-festive, flamboyant and boisterous.
 
However, such a scene would have been unthinkable just three years ago when radical elements forbade singing and dancing at weddings in Muslim communities. Xinjiang, China's gateway to Central and West Asia, has borne the brunt of the growing infiltration by extremists in recent years.
 
Religious fanatics preaching an extreme, distorted version of Islam asked local Muslims to reject everything produced by non-Muslims, from facial tissues to government-paved roads. Some even incited violence and the killing of "infidels", which they believe is a pathway to heaven.
 
Extremists have launched many terrorist attacks
 
Such pernicious influence of extremist ideology, coupled with the "East Turkistan" separatist movement in Xinjiang, has created an explosive mix. Since the 1990s, violent terrorist forces have launched thousands of terrorist attacks across Xinjiang, claiming the lives of hundreds of police officers, among others. In one of the most appalling attacks in July 2009, "East Turkistan" forces indiscriminately killed 197 people and injured more than 1,700 in coordinated attacks in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi. In July 2014, a 74-year-old Imam was cruelly butchered by extremists at Etigar Mosque in Kashgar.
 
No responsible government will allow such extremist and terrorist rampages, particularly in Xinjiang, a vital passage of the ancient Silk Road, which is one sixth of China's land territory and home to 56 ethnic groups and major religions. A stable, united and prosperous Xinjiang is indispensable to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
 
While firmly cracking down on hardcore terrorists, the regional government of Xinjiang has proactively explored effective counter-terrorism approaches in the light of local realities so as to address both the symptoms and root causes. The result has been a preventive counter-terrorist approach focusing on the removal of the breeding ground for terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. As part of this endeavor, vocational education and training centers were established in the region with the aim of de-radicalizing and rehabilitating minor offenders and vulnerable people that have been influenced by extremist ideologies.
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