Harmless halal food sparks anti-Islam backlash against China’s tiny Muslim community

  • A backlash against Islam is on the rise in this officially atheist country, and the lightning rod is halal.
  • One of China’s biggest restaurant delivery companies, Meituan Takeaway, launched a halal service in July to attract more of China’s 23 million Muslims.
  • By pressing a small green button marked with a mosque on the Meitaun smartphone app, customers can request that halal dishes be kept separate from orders containing pork or alcohol, which are banned under Islamic law.
  • Many Han called for a boycott, and Meituan withdrew the service.
  • “Concerns about halal food have become an outlet for irrational fears and concerns about Muslims and the perceived growing influence of Islam in China,” said James Leibold, a professor of Chinese politics at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia.
  • The communist central government, which censors any online comments it dislikes, has allowed the anti-Muslim hate speech to remain posted.
  • China has banned Uighur men from growing beards, women from wearing veils and children from attending mosques. It also has forced Uighurs to hand in their passports and return home from studying overseas.

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