A passage in the pontiff’s new book referring to Uighur suffering has ‘no factual basis at all’, Chinese foreign ministry says.
China has slammed Pope Francis over a passage in his new book in which he mentions the suffering of China’s Uighur Muslim minority group.
While reacting to comment on Tuesday November 24, 2020, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said people of all ethnic groups enjoy the full rights of survival, development, and freedom of religious belief.
Zhao made no mention of the camps in which more than a million Uighurs and members of other Chinese Muslim minority groups are reported to be held.
The United States and other governments, along with human rights groups, say the prison-like facilities are intended to separate Muslims from their religious and cultural heritage, forcing them to declare loyalty to China’s ruling Communist Party and its leader, Xi Jinping.
China, after initially denying the existence of the facilities, says they are centres intended to provide job training and prevent “terrorism” and religious “extremism” – on a voluntary basis.
In his new book, Let Us Dream, due on December 1, Francis listed the “poor Uighurs” among examples of groups persecuted for their faith.
Francis wrote about the need to see the world from the peripheries and the margins of society, “to places of sin and misery, of exclusion and suffering, of illness and solitude”.
“Rohingya, the poor Uighurs, the Yazidi – what ISIS (ISIL) did to them was truly cruel – or Christians in Egypt and Pakistan killed by bombs that went off while they prayed in church,” Francis writes in his book.
Francis, however, has declined to call out China for its crackdown on religious minorities, including Catholics, much to the dismay of the Trump administration and human rights groups.