China has demoted a ruling Communist party official for nor ‘daring’ to smoke in front of the Muslim leaders of province.
The official named Jelil Matniyaz was the party chief of a village in Hotan, Xinjiang and he was demoted from “senior staff member” to “staff member” on March 25 for his “infirm political stands...and for being afraid to smoke in front of religious figures.
The official’s conduct was considered a sign of timidity in China’s fight against extremism.
“Smoking is a personal choice, and religious and ordinary people should respect each other, but his behaviour of ‘not daring’ to smoke conforms with extreme religious thought in Xinjiang,” the Global Times quoted a Hotan official as saying.
“As a party chief, he should lead the fight against extreme religious thought, otherwise, he would fail to confront the threat of extreme regional forces,” the official said.
“According to local religion customs, smoking is not allowed in front of older or religious people,” Turgunjun Tursun, a professor with the Zhejiang Normal University, said.
However, some religious people force ordinary citizens also to comply with the requirements, a senior official who had been working in Xinjiang for years, told the paper.
The official’s demotion is an isolated case, Tursun said, adding that the local government should balance de-extremist behaviour and local customs in the crackdown on extremism.
The move to demote the official comes as authorities intensified their efforts to curb religious extremism.
Early this month, the province where the Chinese security forces are battling recurring attacks by Uygur militants enacted a new law banning a wide range of acts, including wearing veils or growing “abnormal”.
(With PTI inputs)