Many Muslims Killed in Chinese Ethnic Clashes
Chinese Muslims number nearly 24 million
ZHENGZHOU, China, November 1 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) -
Ethnic clashes between the Muslim Hui minority and the Han majority
in central China's Henan province left several Muslims killed and
many others wounded, prompting local authorities to declare martial
The New York Times on Monday, November 1, put the number of those
killed at 148, citing local journalists witnesses.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) and other media, however, put the number
at 20 ten of each ethnicity, amid a local media blackout.
Nanren village, near the southern bank of the Yellow River in
Zhongmou county, was one of the flashpoints of the confrontation,
according to the imam of the village mosque.
He said at least six people died in Nanren and the unrest had yet to
"Two Huis died here, and four or five members of the Han
nationality," the imam, surnamed Hu, told AFP by telephone.
He said the clashes erupted late last week when Hui truck drivers
from Nanren tried to pass through a village mostly inhabited by Han
Chinese and one of them got beaten up over a traffic dispute.
Soon after that incident, thousands of Han Chinese surrounded Nanren
village, and a confrontation developed in which a number of houses
were burnt down and a brick factory was destroyed, Hu said.
The fatalities that Hu was informed about happened during this
clash, which was only put down when troops from the regular and
paramilitary People's Armed Police arrived, he said.
He said he had heard vague reports of a similar clash in another
nearby village Sunday, although he had no details.
However, the NY Times gave a different version of the events.
It said, quoting local sources, that the clashes flared Friday,
October 29, and continued into the weekend after a Hui taxi driver's
car hit and killed a 6-year-old Han girl, prompting recriminations
among different ethnic groups.
An employee surnamed Wang from the Zhongmou county taxi company told
AFP that the recent clashes between the Hui and Han are the worst
"Clashes have happened frequently before but this is the worst," he
"The two groups used farm tools to fight each other. Martial law has
been declared in the village, people are prevented from getting in
Another indication on the gravity of the situation is the reported
heavy security deployment in the area.
A female officer in the area's main police station told AFP she was
one of the only ones left as her colleagues were out trying to
control the disturbances.
"Normally, there are several hundred police here, but they have all
gone to the scene," she said.
"The People's Armed Police has also gone to the scene."
According to AFP, however, locals played down The New York Times
report that almost 150 people died in the clashes.
"Nearly 150 dead sounds like too much," said a local
reporter. "Maybe it's the number of casualties, dead and injured put
There was no word on the clashes or the casualties carried by
Chinese state media Monday, and local journalists in the region said
a news blackout was in force.
"We want to report about it, but the central government doesn't want
us to," a journalist with Henan Daily told AFP.
"They are afraid to trigger conflict among the ethnic groups."
Police lined the main road into the village Monday and prevented
journalists from entering, according to AFP.
China's Huis are descendants of Arab and Persian traders who have
over the centuries mixed so thoroughly with the Han Chinese that
they are virtually indistinguishable from each other, apart from
different customs and dress codes.
The Huis are generally considered among China's best assimilated
minorities, although occasional clashes with other groups are known
to occur, according to Aljazeera Web site.
All in all, two percent of China's population is Muslim; a
deceptively small statistic until one realizes the reference is to a
country with a population of 1.2 billion, leading to a total of 24
Han Chinese make up more than 90% of the population. The country has
55 officially recognized ethnic groups.
China suffers occasional tensions between ethnic groups, but the
extent of any violent clashes is unclear because the communist
government suppresses information about social conflict.
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