China punishes Xinjiang official for openly practising faith

I am posting this primarily because I was unaware that Chinese government employees were still banned from expressing religious faith. Is this due to a fear that religions are a threat to government control or that religions might exert influence on policy?

In the case of the Uighurs, the issue is also tied up with ethnic tensions. They have chafed under Chinese rule, leading to riots and occasional terrorist acts. The Chinese government may feel a special need to suppress Islam among the Uighurs.

China has reprimanded 15 Xinjiang officials for violations that include adhering to religious faith, state media said on Tuesday, amid a crackdown on what the government calls illegal religious activities in the unruly western region.

Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur people who speak a Turkic language, has been beset for years by violence that the Chinese government blames on Islamist militants and separatists.

“The punishment of expulsion from public office was handed to [the official] surnamed Mai who violated the clear regulation that state workers must not have religious faith,” Xinhua said, citing the city’s Uighur mayor, Ainiwaer Tuerxun. Mai had “remained devout and incorrigible, and had a poor attitude,” the report added.

Tensions are running high in Xinjiang, after officials told Muslims to eschew religious customs during the fasting month of Ramadan, which rights groups saw as an bid to repress Uighurs.

Have Christians in China faced similar repression?

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