Xinjiang educates, reforms jailed extremists in religious thought

Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region educated religious extremists in prison, and invited religion experts to reform the extremists' thoughts, a Xinjiang-based expert said on Monday.
"Extremists in prison need to transform their thoughts. We have invited experts on religion to rectify their extremist thinking," Ma Pinyan, a research fellow at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Religious Studies, said on Monday.

Ma, who is also the vice president of the Xinjiang Prison Association, told the Global Times that they also gave basic religious education to the prison guards.
"The prison guards and other managing staff need to know about religions to properly educate these extremists," Ma said.
Ma added that they are still exploring a way to better educate extremists in prison since there were cases when the extremists spread their ideas in prison.
Kazakhstan's way of separating extremists from other prisoners may offer Xinjiang a different perspective, Ma noted.

La Disheng, former vice president of the Xinjiang Academy of Governance, said that religious extremism has also affected Xinjiang's ethnic unity.
"As a multi-ethnic region, Xinjiang has proven that prosperous development can only be gained through ethnic unity, while ethnic conflicts and separatism may lead to disasters," La said.
Ma added that the region is working closely with relevant countries on fighting the East Turkistan terrorist forces.

"Xinjiang is working together with relevant countries to counter the East Turkistan terrorist forces. It also borrows from the experiences of the international community in preventing extremism and battling online terrorism," Ma said.
Ma noted that Xinjiang also participates in the multilateral cooperation mechanism and communicates with different societies to limit the space of religious extremism.

Some East Turkistan terrorists go to Syria or Afghanistan from Xinjiang to join ISIS, reportedly around 300. And they are attempting to return to China or plot violent activities, Ma said.
"The government has taken measures to stop these terrorists at the border and strengthened counter-terrorism education among the residents," Ma said.


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