A delegation consisting of more than 30 Islamic figures and scholars from 14 countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Tunisia and Bosnia and Herzegovina begin their Xinjiang visit on Sunday. (Photos: Fan Lingzhi/GT)
Visiting the exhibition on the fight against terrorism and extremism, talking with religion groups, and interacting with local residents at the bazaar… a group of Islamic figures and scholars are paying a visit to Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to get a clear and better understanding of the region in contrast to the U.S.-led smear campaign.
Led by Ali Rashid Abudula Ali Alnuaimi, chairman of the World Muslim Communities Council, the delegation consists of more than 30 Islamic figures and scholars from 14 countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Tunisia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, who began their Xinjiang visit on Sunday.
Ma Xingrui, Party chief of the Xinjiang region, welcomed the delegation - the first foreign delegation to the region in 2023 - at a meeting in Urumqi on Monday, acknowledging their support for China's stance on Xinjiang-related issues, as the U.S. and some Western countries continuously spread rumors, throwing mud at China and attempting to sow discord between China and Islamic countries.
However, righteous people in the Islamic world have never bent to the pressure from some Western countries, nor have they been fooled by lies about the Xinjiang region, Ma said. Instead of following a few Western countries in using Xinjiang-related issues to interfere with China's internal affairs, these people have affirmed the development of the Xinjiang region, exposed the political practices of the U.S. and some Western countries, and defended international fairness and justice, he said.
During the Monday meeting, Ali spoke highly of the region's measures on countering terrorism and extremism, and also of the people who have contributed to the stability and development in the region.
The scholar also noted that some anti-China forces have attacked China, mainly on topics related to the Xinjiang and Xizang regions and the island of Taiwan, which are related to China's national security. In Chinese culture, there is no concept of targeting Muslims or the Islamic civilization, Ali said, adding that it is their responsibility to tell the world about China's prosperity and development.
Ali also noted that the whole world needs China, and its stability and prosperity are also important to the world.
In addition to meeting with the Xinjiang Party chief, the delegation also visited an exhibition on the fight against terrorism and extremism on Sunday to learn more about how the region previously suffered from terrorism.
The exhibition introduces the history of the Xinjiang region, which is an inseparable part of China. It also showed how the three forces of separatism, extremism and terrorism plagued the region from 1990 to 2016, resulting in thousands of terror attacks and leaving miserable memories for local residents. Brief introductions on 52 terror attacks with photos of scenes from the attacks and victims from different ethnic groups and religious groups, were displayed.
The violence and brutality shocked the delegation. Fahad Ahmed, a reporter from the UAE, told the Global Times that the pictures and videos of the terror attacks were like "horror movies" and it is hard to imagine people could do such brutal things to others. Such acts of violence have nothing to do with religion, he said.
Saudi Arabia's former Minister of Education Abdullah Saleh Al Obaid said they felt grieved to see the terrorist attacks in Xinjiang region
Osama Elsayed Mahmoud Mohamed Saad, the Egyptian president's advisor for religious affairs, said that the exhibition exposed the crimes of terrorists and also showed the efforts made by the Chinese government and Chinese people to counter terrorism.
Terrorists violate human dignity and cause a pandemic among the people, said the Egyptian religious figure, calling on the international community to understand the nature of terrorism and jointly resist such atrocities.
"I think that what we saw today reflected what actually happened on the ground… anyone coming to visit the region should come and see this because this is part of its history. It's not only China - the whole world has suffered from terrorism and extremism," said Ali.
He noted that all the terrorist attacks that happened in the region should be documented and the new generation should learn about it.
However, for a long time, the U.S. and some Western countries have applied double standards on terror attacks that took place in China's Xinjiang region and described the Chinese government's counterterrorism measures as "oppressing ethnic minorities."
"We shouldn't play political games when countering terrorism and extremism… This is why we think it's the responsibility of wise people everywhere to understand that the threat of terrorism and extremism is not a threat to one single nation or a single region. It's a threat to the world. All of us should come together and fight terrorism and extremism," said Ali.
To learn more about the development of Islam in the region, the delegation also went to the regional Islamic Association, the Xinjiang Islamic Institute, and some mosques in Urumqi on Sunday.
Bai Shengfu, vice chairman of China's Islamic Association, noted that the institute's new compound covers an area of 50,000 square meters with an investment of 279 million yuan ($41.1 million). It includes teaching buildings, a library, a gym, playgrounds, canteens and dormitories, and also has a hall for praying.
The delegation took a tour to different parts of the institute and prayed with local students.
Mestaoui Mohamed Slaheddine, advisor to the Tunisian Prime Minister, and also secretary general of the Supreme Islamic Council, said he was impressed when he saw the institute's new and unique compound and was amazed by the elegant design of the prayer hall. "I believe that Muslims can feel peace the moment they step in here."
During a symposium of the delegation with teaching staff and students in the Islamic Institute, Abdureqip Tomurniyaz, president of the institute, outlined the education of Islamic clergies in the region and said that Muslims' freedom of religion has been fully protected, and no one in the region has been treated unfairly due to their beliefs.