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Dialogue, not repression, is the way

Dialogue, not repression, is the way

Not much effort is needed in current times ruled by electronic media to discover that in China, which Marxists the world over claim to be where people's democracy of the proletariat rules, what exists is ruthless totalitarianism. It is decades since the iron curtain became history. In fact the very collapse of the Soviet Union was a result of that curtain being torn down.

Things are now such that China, which had taken years even to inform the people about man's stepping on the moon, cannot afford to repeat such folly even if it intends to. Therefore China, which is forced to come closer to Arab-Muslim countries for its trade and industrial surge and to open its doors to businessmen from abroad, has also the compulsion to use such ploys to pass off as a country where religious freedom exists. The ways China tries to throw dust into the eyes of the Muslim world are opening places worship in cities which tourists and business visit in plenty, sending Chinese youth to Arab universities to learn Arabic language, and giving opportunity for more pilgrims to perform haj.

As a matter of fact, news emerging repeatedly show that no change has happened in the basic stance of Chinese Communist Party and the government towards Islam, and extremely strict measures are adopted to make the country free of religion. It is only that the phenomenon of Islamophobia, that has become rampant, has given governments a golden opportunity to create a smokescreen of extremism and terrorism, and thus conduct an aggressive hunt after religion itself. Although China after capturing Xinjiang province, where Muslims of Turkish origin are concentrated, allowed it autonomy in name, the people there are forced to make a life and death struggle to protect their identity amidst entirely hostile circumstances. Most recently, in addition to the strict controls on public prayers and ban of fasting in Ramadan, even giving babies Muslim names has been prohibited. And for the 11,500 Chinese pilgrims who went for haj this year, a smart card fitted with a special tracking device was made compulsory, which is seen as a means of surveillance about what they do while abroad.

Although the Chinese Islamic Association, which is a government agency, claims this is for the security of the pilgrims, it has been revealed that the card is powered by a technology that can detect even minute movements of the bearer. The imprisonment of a million Uighur Muslims is on allegations of extremism and terrorism in them. The claim of 'Global Times', the organ of Chinese Communist Party, is that otherwise China would have become another Syria or Libya. But the UN council has revealed that what is happening there is cruel violation of human rights. The latest instance is that of the Chinese government order to demolish the celebrated Weizhou Grand Masjid after its renovation, in the northern province of Ningxia. However, following a road block by 30,000 Muslims against the demolition, the government action has been temporarily suspended. Authorities cite violation of building rules as reason for demolition. But going by the background, it is the establishment's determination not to tolerate any symbol of religion in the country that is behind the stubbornness of the government.

In a Communist country where atheism and denial of religion is accepted as a theory, although anti-religious actions of this kind are not unexpected, two things become clear from them. One, even in the current situation when the 200th birth anniversary of Karl Marx is celebrated, Communist movements or countries are not able to re-examine their blind opposition to religion and denial of faith, which is one of the main reasons that led to the fall of Communist. Even after several bitter experiences, materialists are not prepared to accept that freedom of faith is inherent in man and no one has a right to deny it. Although Communist parties that function in democratic countries claim that they are not against religion and do allow religious freedom, it is nothing more than vote bank politics. Secondly, even now Communists do not have the courage to face religious believers through intellectual and rational debates. They are not prepared to recognize that ideas are to be countered by ideas, and violence and coercion are not the means of engagement. Thus China, the strongest Communist country is unable to allow even very limited freedom of belief.

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