The spread of radical Islamic faith is a phenomenon that is not limited to the Middle East or the American prison system. In fact, The People's Republic of China, which has been battling a restive Muslim population centered on its Xinjiang province, has witnessed an upsurge in violence over the past two years in its Muslim dominated western provinces. No stranger to political re-education programs, China has opted to weaken Islam within its midst by ordering Muslim shopkeepers to sell alcohol and cigarettes, two items prescribed by the Quran, to help weaken the fabric of the Muslin faith.

Communist officials have mandated that Muslim shopkeepers sell alcohol and cigarettes, and display them prominently in what officials call, "eye-catching displays." Failure to comply with these latest edicts from Beijing will result in shuttering the business and prosecution of the owner. This is just the latest attempt by Chinese officials to weaken the ethnic Uighurs' allegiance and identification to the Prophet Mohammad's religion.

Prior to this latest step, which communist officials termed, "a strike hard" campaign, the government had previously banned government employees and children from attending mosques, women are forbidden to wear veils that cover their faces and men are discouraged from growing long beards. Additionally, Muslims are not allowed to participate in Islamic religious observances such as Ramadan.

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The Chinese government blames Uighur militant groups' active abroad for using the World Wide Web for inciting and inspiring local Uighurs to adopt a policy of jihad against the state. Critics note that China's long repressive policies in the area have served as a wind that has simply fanned the fires of Islam as the ethnic Uighurs sought any manner of community identity that they could claim as their own in the majority Han society.

Whether these Chinese actions will serve to pour water or gasoline on this simmering region's discontent is yet to be seen, but independent reports from the area say that about 60 businesses have adhered to the government's demands in the restive province.



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