04/11/2017, 17.32
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Xinjiang official punished for refusing to smoke in front of Muslims

Village party head is demoted for not having a "resolute political position." Beijing wants officials to reject Islamic restrictions against smoking. Communist Party report vets members’ conduct. The authorities want officials to show a "commitment to secularism”.

Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) – Xinjiang authorities have punished a local official for refusing to smoke in front of Muslim elders, seeing it as a sign of inadequate commitment to the region’s fight against religious extremism, this according to a government report cited by state media on Tuesday.

Jelil Matniyaz, the Communist Party head of a village in Hotan prefecture, was demoted for “not daring” to smoke in front of religious figures, said the report, released on Saturday and reproduced by official newspapers and websites.

The report slammed Matniyaz, identified as an indigenous Uygur, for not having a “resolute political stance”.

The state-run Global Times newspaper on Tuesday quoted other local officials as saying that government leaders should push back against rather than comply with religious prohibitions against smoking, to demonstrate their “commitment to secularisation”.

The Hotan Daily said a total of 97 local officials were censured as part of a Communist Party investigation into the conduct of its own members.

The report indicated the inquiry was personally directed by Chen Quanguo, Xinjiang’s party leader and highest-ranking official, who has vowed to crack down on extremism.

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