China jails 11 in Xinjiang for religious hatred

In this 25 April 2013 photo, a man stands amid the site of a violent clash in Kashgar, in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang Image copyright AP
Image caption A violence clash in April in Xinjiang's Kashgar left 21 people dead

China has jailed 11 people for crimes of ethnic and religious hatred in the far western region of Xinjiang.

One man was sentenced to six years for using the internet to promote Islamic holy war, state media said.

Eight others received sentences of between two and five years for destroying televisions in what state media called a religious frenzy.

The defendants' ethnicity was not given but their names suggested they were from the minority Muslim Uighur group.

The sentences, announced in the Chinese Justice Ministry's official newspaper Legal Daily, come days ahead of the fourth anniversary of deadly clashes in the regional capital, Urumqi, between the Uighur and Han Chinese communities.

About 200 people - mostly Han Chinese - were killed in the rioting that erupted on 5 July 2009.

Uighurs, who make up about 45% of the region's population, say an influx of Han Chinese residents has marginalised their traditional culture.

There are sporadic outbreaks of violence. In April, clashes in Kashgar left 21 people - including 15 police and officials - dead.

The government said the violence began when "terrorists" were discovered in a building by officials searching for weapons.

But local people told the BBC that the violence involved a local family who had a long-standing dispute with officials who had been pressuring the men to shave off their beards and the women to take off their veils.

Beijing authorities often blame violent incidents in Xinjiang on Uighur extremists seeking autonomy for the region. Uighur activists, meanwhile, accuse Beijing of over-exaggerating the threat to justify heavy-handed rule.

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