[JURIST] The People’s Court of Kashgar in China’s western region of Xinjiang sentenced 22 people to prison terms for illegal religious activities and other crimes. The Xinhua News Agency [official website] stated it is the latest sign of unease over Muslim extremism in the region. Prison sentences [Xinhua report] ranged from five to 16 years for crimes including illegal religious activities, inciting ethnic hatred and inciting quarrels. China’s crime of inciting quarrels often covers what is seen as anti-state behavior.
In recent years separatist activity has intensified to what China sees as religious extremism. There has been a violent separatist movement in the Xinjang region by Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking, Muslim ethnic group. In May Chinese officials held a public rally and sentenced 55 individuals [JURIST report] for crimes such as separatism, participation in terrorist groups and violent terrorism. Also in May a “terror group” was arrested [BBC report] in Xinjiang with more than 1 ton of material for explosive devices. The same month 31 people were killed, and over 90 injured, when two cars drove through a busy street market in Xinjiang, setting off explosives [Guardian report]. In April both a bombing and a knife attack [CNN report] occurred in the South Railway Station of Urumqi.