Salafism on the Rise in China

(Los Angeles Times) Jonathan Kaiman - About 60% of the 250,000 people in Linxia, in northern China's Gansu province, are Muslim. They include mainstream Muslims as well as Salafis, followers of an ultra-conservative school of thought within Sunni Islam espousing a way of life and prayer that harks back to the 6th century. The growth in the Salafi movement here has rattled China's government, which finds any expression of religious fervor to be unnerving, especially when it carries associations with foreign extremists. The Chinese public increasingly associates Islam with terrorism, and many other Chinese Muslims see Salafis as fanatics. Estimates of the number of Chinese Salafis range from thousands to tens of thousands. Yet experts and Linxia Muslims agree that the movement is gaining traction in China. "I've been studying Muslims in China for the past 30 years, and it's only over the past four or five that we see young Han men converting to a radical, conservative Islamic ideology," said Dru Gladney, an expert on Chinese Muslims at Pomona College.

2016-02-05 00:00:00

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