Chinese Official Calls Muslim Shootings a Minor Issue
China said Tuesday that riots last week in Shandong province in which six Muslims were gunned down by police were a "minor issue" which had been overblown by the Western media.
"If there is any ethnic strife or a minor issue that triggered some other issues, perhaps they may exist, but the international media should not play up this kind of question," foreign ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said.
Zhang maintained it was government policy to protect freedom of religion.
Armed police last Tuesday opened fire on a crowd of up to 2,000 Muslims from Hebei province who were making their way towards Yangxin county in neighboring Shandong province to support fellow Muslims in a three-month feud with the Han Chinese community.
At least 40 others were reported to have been injured.
Officials at mosques in the region said Monday there was deep unhappiness among the Muslim community over the way the authorities handled last week's unrest.
The violence first erupted in September after a Han Chinese vendor infuriated Muslims in Yangxing by putting up a sign offering "Islamic pork."
The vendor and another Han were killed in violence triggered when Muslims removed the sign, while scores of other people have been injured in clashes over the past two months -- BEIJING (AFP)
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