Over 100 Chinese Uighur Muslims have joined the Islamic State terrorist group owing to Beijing’s oppressive policies, including a ban on fasting during Ramadan or growing beards, a media report said on Thursday.
The report rejects China’s claim that external forces were to be blamed for the Uighur groups joining the IS or for planning attacks on Chinese soil, which claimed hundreds of lives in recent years, Efe news reported.
The report, based on the case studies of more than 3,500 foreign recruits in the IS that was leaked by a defector from the extremist organisation, said these measures “could be a push factor driving people to leave the country and look elsewhere for a sense of belonging”.
At least 114 of these foreign fighters were from Xinjiang, making it the region that sends the fifth highest number of recruits to the IS, after three regions in Saudi Arabia and one in Tunisia, the study said.
It also pointed out the Xinjiang region could serve as an important recruitment ground for the outfit as a result of “significant economic disparities between the ethnic majority Han Chinese and the local Uighur Muslim population” and “substantial state repression”.
The report also revealed IS militants from the Xinjiang region were generally less educated, had little travel experience and were married, as compared to other foreign-origin recruits.
In 2015, Chinese authorities said more than a hundred Chinese citizens, mostly Uighurs, had joined the IS, and official daily Global Times had warned of possible attacks in the country.