In China, riot breaks out after pork spotted in Halal bakery van

Muslims in China urge strick punishment, better overall standards reporter, Beijing
May 4, 2015
A riot at a Halal bakery accused of selling pork products led authorities in the western Chinese city of Xining to promise a full investigation on Sunday in a bid to calm tensions.

A large crowd of angry Muslims gathered around the Halal chain store and smashed windows after pork sausages and ham were discovered in a delivery van following morning prayers on Friday.

Authorities in multi-ethnic Xining issued a series of statements on Saturday and Sunday urging calm and announcing the suspension of the bakery’s manufacturing facility amid a probe into the riot.

“Investigation takes time, and will be done carefully, please give us some time so we can give you a satisfactory response,” the city government said Sunday.

It was forced to temporarily close the city’s official social media account Sunday after being swamped with demands that the bakery chain A Li Cake be punished.

The imam of Xining’s Dongguan Grand Mosque, Ma Changqing, said on Saturday the incident had hurt local Muslims and issued a list of demanded punishments.

But the imam’s comments prompted a barrage of criticism on social media, as many complained a religious figure should not be able to influence the law in a secular state.

Qinghai’s provincial capital Xining, a city with a sizeable Hui Muslim and Tibetan population, has remained mostly calm as religious and ethnic violence has engulfed western China in recent years, particularly neighboring Xinjiang.

Authorities in March accused minority Muslim Uyghur extremists of a campaign taking Halal too far as tensions have risen.

“In fact, the pan-halal trend became so strong in [the] past two years that people even refused to drive Chevrolet cars because its logo is shaped like a cross,” Abulet Asan, an official in Xinjiang’s Religious Affairs Bureau, told the state-run China Daily.

But with still no nationwide Halal standard and growing tensions between majority Han and minority Muslims, Uyghur groups maintain their concerns are valid.

“This is largely for health reasons due to the rise of unhealthy, un-halal, and even poisonous foods made by irresponsible Chinese companies,” Alim Seytoff, executive director of the US-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, told “The recent pro-halal trend came as a result of Chinese food producers labeling a lot of non-halal food as halal.”

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