Archive for ‘islam’

05/06/2019

China runs Confucian culture courses for religious leaders in bid to boost control

  • Communist Party says those taking part pledged to ‘cultivate the Chinese cultural character of our nation’s religions’
  • Confucius has been rehabilitated by party in recent years as a means of rallying patriotism and countering foreign influences
The Communist Party for decades attacked the sage as a symbol of feudalism, but now Confucianism has been elevated. Photo: AP
The Communist Party for decades attacked the sage as a symbol of feudalism, but now Confucianism has been elevated. Photo: AP
China has begun five-day Confucian culture immersion courses for religious leaders in the sage’s hometown as part of a campaign to extend government control over faith communities through a

process of Sinicisation

.

The ruling Communist Party’s United Work Front Department said in a news release on Monday that the activity was designed to ensure the primacy of traditional Chinese values above all.

“To hold activities here … is a collective tribute to excellent traditional Chinese culture and a conscious identification and integration with Chinese culture,” said the release, posted on the department’s website.

Participants pledged to “cultivate the Chinese cultural character of our nation’s religions so that our nation’s religions are rooted in the fertile soil of excellent traditional Chinese culture, and to ceaselessly and deeply advance the Sinicisation of our nation’s religions”, it said.

The five-day immersion courses are being held in the sage’s hometown of Qufu. Photo: United Front Work Department
The five-day immersion courses are being held in the sage’s hometown of Qufu. Photo: United Front Work Department

President Xi Jinping has launched the harshest crackdown in decades on religious practices, especially those viewed as foreign such as Christianity and Islam, while at the same time elevating home-grown Confucianism.

While for decades the officially atheistic Communist Party attacked Confucius as a symbol of feudalism, he has been thoroughly rehabilitated in recent years as a means of rallying patriotism and countering foreign influences.

Confucianism’s emphasis on strict social organisation, advancement through study and exam taking, adherence to hierarchy and maintenance of social harmony appeals especially to the heavily bureaucratic party, which brooks no challenge to its authority.

Xi has repeatedly called for religious leaders and believers to be guided by “socialist core values”. Party bureaucrats overseeing religion have demanded that key religious tenets and texts such as the Bible and Koran be interpreted “in conformity with the demands of modern Chinese development and excellent traditional Chinese culture”.

That has been accompanied by a campaign of removing crosses and bulldozing many churches, destroying mosques and locking an

estimated 1 million Chinese Muslims

in camps where they are forced to renounce Islam and their cultural traditions.

Despite international condemnation, China claims it upholds freedom of religion and is seeking only to ensure regulations are followed while discouraging religious extremism and violence.
Those participating at the launch of the five-day course included the president of the Chinese Taoist Association, vice-president of the Chinese Islamic Association, chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and president of the Chinese Christian Association.
Confucius was believed to have been born in the 6th century BC in the eastern town of Qufu. He is credited with authoring or editing key texts of statesmanship and social order, particularly the Analects that contain his key aphorisms and teachings.
The sage’s legacy is also invoked in the name of the 
Confucius Institutes

, quasi-academic bodies set up in colleges and other centres of education around the world.

Several US universities have rejected offers to open Confucius Institutes on their campuses or declined to renew contracts over concerns about Chinese government political influence.
Source: SCMP
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17/02/2019

Saudi crown prince heads for Pakistan amid India tensions

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is due to arrive in Pakistan on Sunday at the start of his tour of South Asia and China, but the visit risks being overshadowed by escalating tensions between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan.

The trip comes days after a suicide bomber killed 44 Indian paramilitary police in the disputed Kashmir region. New Delhi has accused Pakistan of having a hand in the bombing and vowed to punish Islamabad, which denies involvement.

Prince Mohammed had also planned to visit Indonesia and Malaysia during the Asian tour, but those trips have been postponed, according to Malaysian and Indonesian officials. No reasons for the postponements or alternative tour dates were given.

Cash-strapped and in need of friends, Pakistan is welcoming the crown prince with open arms for a visit during which he is expected to sign investment agreements worth more than $10 billion.

Saudi Arabia has in recent months helped keep Pakistan’s economy afloat by propping up its rapidly dwindling foreign exchange reserves with a $6 billion loan, giving Islamabad breathing room as it negotiates a bailout with the International Monetary Fund.

The visit marks a deepening in ties between allies whose relationship has in the past centred on oil-rich Saudi Arabia backing Pakistan’s economy during difficult periods, and in return Pakistan’s powerful army lending support to Saudi Arabia and its royal family.
As the guardians of most holy sites in the birthplace of Islam, the Saudi royal family carries vast religious clout in Pakistan, a staunchly conservative and mainly-Muslim nation of 208 million people.
“What is happening in this relationship is a renewal of Pakistan’s commitment to help protect the royal family and the order as it exists in Saudi Arabia,” said Mosharraf Zaidi, Senior Fellow at Tabadlab, a Pakistani think tank focussed on global and local public policy.
“On the flip side, there is reassurance that Saudi Arabia will not only continue to serve as a strategic friend who will help shore up Pakistan’s finances when needed, but it’s also going to become a participant in the wider investment in Pakistan.”
Pakistan is shutting down its airspace and has stepped up security in Islamabad for the crown prince, who is set to become the first guest to stay at the Prime Minister’s House. Pakistan’s new populist premier, Imran Khan, has refused to use the residence in a bid to save taxpayers’ money.
Pakistani hopes for further investment opportunities from Saudi Arabia were dealt a blow on Saturday when the government announced that the Pak-Saudi Business Conference had been “postponed”.
Pakistani officials have already flagged up that Saudi Arabia will announce eight investment agreements, including a $10 billion refinery and petrochemicals complex in the coastal city of Gwadar, where China is building a port.
But the crown prince’s arrival comes amid a vow by India to isolate Pakistan internationally following the deadliest attack in Kashmir in decades.
New Delhi is demanding Islamabad act against the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group, which it says has the backing of the Pakistani state, over the bombing. Islamabad denies playing a role and has called for an investigation.
In Islamabad, the crown prince is expected to meet Khan and Pakistan’s army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa.
44 killed in worst Kashmir attack in decades
He is also set to meet representatives of the Afghan Taliban militant group to discuss peace negotiations to end the 17-year civil war in Afghanistan, Pakistani government and Taliban sources say.
“We arrived in Islamabad today Sunday and others are on their way,” one senior Afghan Taliban figure told Reuters. “As per the plan we know so far, we are going to meet Mohammed bin Salman and his delegation members today at night and then on Monday.”
Source: reuters
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