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Monday, November 21, 2005

East is East and West is West?

We are a nation of many nationalities, many races, many religions—bound together by a single unity, the unity of freedom and equality...Whoever seeks to set one religion against another, seeks to destroy all religion.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882–1945)

The violence began with the young people, as it so often does. Out of work, affronted that after years, and indeed in some cases generations, of living in the country, they are still treated like ‘foreigners’ and misfits. Part of the problem is that the very Constitution and body of laws is rigidly secular, stemming from the time of their country’s revolution when the Church and religious leaders were thought to have too much influence on the monarch. Much is made of unemployment and economic problems as an explanation, and a claim is made that their motivation is poverty. But, in reality, it is their faith and ethnicity that prevent them from blending into the mainstream. After a minor accident, years of unofficial segregation boiled over into riots, demonstrations, and violence. Even as it eventualy subsided, the root causes remained unchanged.

A description of France? No, of , where there have been hundeds of bombings already.

According to the
Xinhua English language Chinese news service, young in China are demonstrating in a way eerily similar to the problems in Paris and environs. But, as blogger OneManBandwidth, Dr. Lonnie Hodge says, "The China news agency that you found is THE official agency...The key word is offficial...So 90% is unreliable..." Another, franker, story on the riots may be found HERE. To put this in perspective, there are more Muslims in China than in the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Libya or Syria, and indeed more Muslims in China than there are Australians at all.

According to the
International Coalition for Religious Freedom:

The Chinese government expressed its attitude toward religion in its October 1997 White Paper: Religion should be adapted to the society in which it is prevalent. This is a universal law for the existence and development of . Now the Chinese people are building into a modern socialist country with Chinese characteristics. The Chinese government advocates that religion
should adapt to this reality
. However, this adaptation does not require citizens to give up religious belief, nor does it require any religion to change its basic doctrines. Instead,
it requires religions to conduct their activities within the sphere prescribed by law to adapt to social and cultural progress.

What an oxymoronic challenge to an ancient faith – become modern, adapt to our social dictates, but believe whatever you wish. Just don’t act upon it in any way.

The report states further:

The Chinese government recognizes that there are 18 million Moslems (note - out of 1.2 billion people) in China with about 30,000 registered mosques and 40,000 imams and Akhunds. According to Amnesty International, reports indicate that the actual number of Muslims may be 30-40 million.

The authorities have been particularly vigilant, however, in trying to quash unregistered Muslim activity in Xinjiang province. Since April of 1996, only the Xinjiang People’s Publication House is allowed to publish books dealing with Islam. Use of unauthorized materials is illegal. Any religious activities in schools is banned, and communist party members are forbidden from participating in Islamic religious activities or distributing religious materials. Chinese authorities continue to dismantle and close down illegal mosques and Koranic schools and arrest unauthorized teachers and believers who are viewed as "separatist" criminals.

There are parallels here with the French ban on turbans and headscarves. By forbidding ancient customs, and declaring genuinely religious people who adhere to them ‘separatists’, the French and Chinese governments are bringing trouble upon themselves.

Ancient nations, ancient cultures, ancient clashes. The United States can be grateful that the Founders put two parts in the Establishment Clause - that there will be no state sponsored denomination, and that there shall be no laws banning the free expression of religion. We should ask those wishing to delete phrases referring to the Almighty from pledges and currency if they really think France and China have found a better way.

5 Comments:

Blogger Doug said...

This was the best, most informative, most interesting political post I've read on a blog ever, I think. Thanks, Peter. I was wholly uninformed.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Uncle Pavian said...

If the official Chinese press is 90% unreliable because it is official, does that mean the unofficial press in this country (al-Associated Press, National Palestinian Radio, U.S. Snooze and World Report, the Washington Dumb As A Post, the Topeka Crapital-Urinal, etc.) are 90% reliable because they're unofficial?

Just asking...

1:58 AM  
Anonymous allan said...

Peter,

I have read similar pieces, just not in mainstream media.

All I can think of is:


"He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression." - Thomas Paine

7:51 PM  
Anonymous ezinewriter said...

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I was toying around with an idea for a header for your blog and came up with this:
http://pivotpoint.blogzy.com/gifts/Porcupine.htm

If you want to use it, contact me at: pivotpoint.com@gmail.com ,
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11:11 AM  
Blogger Lonnie said...

Hi Peter...
Finally got into this post via proxy...you are banned in China...
Religious rights are a huge problem here...Now there is widespread persecution of Muslims in most major cities...Christians too are faced with the government's demand that any leaders be appointed by the State...In the Muslim areas no one under 18 may attend church..and clergy must register themselves yearly...

Be well...

Keep up a great website!

LON

11:03 AM  

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