Religious Oppression in China Extends to Judaism

The Communist Party of China has intensified its oppression of religion.
The NY Times front page covered an interview of Chinese Jews who are wary of discrimination.


Officials Tear Down Jewish Stone Marking

In an area in China called Kaifeng, there is a community of Jewish residents whose ancestors settled there over 1000 years ago.

Decades ago the community began planning a revival of the Kaifeng Jewish culture, and until recently the government was fairly tolerant of their activities seeing it as an opportunity for tourism and investment.

But now, Chinese officials have become more severe in their surveillance of religious practices. All spiritual groups, however small they may be, have been placed under governmental scrutiny.

One Jewish man commented that the erasure of Jewish historical presence says that “There are no Jews here. We just want recognition as Jews”, he said.
They are only allowed to gather in small numbers in private homes to pray. No one has yet been arrested, but police and national guards are constantly watching them.


Clampdown on Christianity and Islam

In China, only five major religions are granted permission from the Communist Party to undertake ‘lawful’ practices: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism. As one can see Judaism is not part of the five, and thus their survival is uncertain.

Even amongst the five recognized religions, if the government decides that their practices are ‘unlawful’, oppression follows. In fact, this is already happening with Christianity in China.

A prominent Chinese Protestant leader, Reverend Gu Yuese, has gone missing since his February arrest for criticizing the government for removing church crosses. Some speculate that he has been imprisoned in a secret “‘black jail’ notorious for deplorable conditions and even torture” (WSJ February 4).

In China, as the government accelerates the destruction of churches and takes down crosses, Christianity is barely given freedom.

In addition, the Chinese government has been openly discriminating the Muslim population of over 10 million living in the Xinjiang autonomous region. Teachers and civil workers are prohibited from participating in any religious activity, and on top of this, minors are not allowed to receive education in religion.

Xinjiang university students are prohibited from participating in the Ramadan fast, and are forced to eat and drink food distributed by the government.


Japan Keeps Mouths Shut About Religion

Japan rarely covers news of this sort of religious oppression.

It is hard for them to imagine the pain those Muslims go through when they are force-fed during Ramadan.

But 80% of the world are believers in one or another religion. And this is why religious oppression is a very important problem to be promulgated in the world press.

This Jewish oppression story was taken up on the front page of the NY Times because it is the right thing to do and since, for the many Jews living in the U.S., it is of utmost importance and a continuation of persecution they have known over the centuries.

It is about time Japan stops playing the ‘innocent bystander’, and the United States and other world leaders must take an active stand on this growing issue. In a world ravaged by problems based on religious practices, we must encourage inclusiveness and end the growing divisiveness. China can make a difference by ending religious discrimination; the rest of the world can help them do this by shining a spotlight on the problem.

Religious Oppression in China Extends to Judaism
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