07/14/2009, 00.00
CHINA
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Tension in Urumqi. "Al Qaeda" threatens China

An Algerian Islamic group has promised revenge against Chinese companies in North Africa. Demonstrations in Jakarta for a jihad against Beijing. Iranian Ayatollah condemns the suppression of Uyghur’s and criticises the silence of the government in Tehran, a friend of China.

Urumqi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Stores bolted closed,  mosques shut: this is the image of the capital of Xinjiang, a day after the killing of two Uyghur’s by two policemen. Meanwhile, groups in some way linked to Al Qaeda have launched a Jihad, or holy war against China and have promised to avenge the blood of Uyghurs against Chinese commercial interests in the world.

Even today, soldiers and security personnel armed with machine guns and truncheons are patrolling roads especially in the area where yesterday the murder took place.

The police say they intervened because three Uyghur’s were assaulting a fourth and at the violent response of two of the attackers they were forced to open fire killing two and wounding a third. Instead witnesses say that the three, exiting a mosque and armed with knives, tried to attack the police, who responded with fire. The incident shows the height of tension in the city, after the interethnic clashes last week, and also shows that the police is not seen as the guarantor of order, but as an enemy of the Uyghur’s.

The Chinese media, to defuse the tension, continue to show the great love of people towards soldiers and police.

The Muslims Uyghur population has suffered decades of political, social and economic exclusion in the region rich in oil and gas. China tries to maintain control through a heavy military presence, justified by charges of terrorism. Indeed, some groups in the past have been responsible for acts of violence, but most of the population is only asking for greater autonomy and religious freedom. Beijing, to prevent the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism, keeps tight control of the entire religious life of the Uyghur’s. In the face of last week’s clashes, the Islamic world in general has kept a low profile. Only groups of Uyghur’s and Turks abroad - who have the same ethnic and linguistic roots - have demonstrated against Beijing.

According to Stirling Assynt, a think-tank for global companies, an Algerian Islamic group affiliated with Al Qaeda has launched messages threatening revenge against Chinese companies in North Africa. If this is confirmed, it would be the first time that the network of Osama bin Laden has directly threatened China. According to Stirling Assynt, threats against China and its trade representations abroad are growing in the jihadist world.

Yesterday, dozens of Indonesian Muslims clashed with guards protecting the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta. They were demanding that the Indonesian government take measures against China and shouted slogans for a jihad in favour of the Uyghurs. Some posters sported slogans like "Stop the genocide of Muslims in Xinjiang."

Two days ago, the Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi condemned the violence against the Uyghur’s and the silence of the Iranian government. "It's true - he said - that the Chinese government and its people have close economic and political ties with us and other Islamic countries, but this is no reason for them to horribly suppress our Muslim brothers and sisters."

 
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