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China Shutters Islamic Bookstore in Beijing, Detains Owner on 'Terrorism' Charges

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Free Radio Asia

Authorities in Beijing have shut down a well-known Islamic bookstore and publishing house and detained its founder on "terrorism" charges amid a nationwide security operation ahead of the ruling Chinese Communist Party's five-yearly congress this month.

An employee who answered the phone at the Qingzhen Bookstore in Beijing's Haidian district on Tuesday confirmed the move.

"We, the bookstore, have closed," the former employee said. "We are no longer in operation and I am no longer an employee here."

"I don't know the details of the situation, though."

Store owner Ma Yinglong, a member of the Dongxiang ethnic group from the northwestern region of Xinjiang, is currently being detained on suspicion of "terrorist activities," U.S.-based rights activist Suleiman Gu told RFA.

And a Hui Muslim who asked to remain anonymous said Ma had already been detained for more than a year, before being released under a suspended sentence handed down by the Haidian District People's Court for "illegal business activities."

The owner was already under house arrest when he was taken away on Oct. 6, Gu said.

Online store

The Qingzhen Bookstore publishes books about Islam and related topics, which it sells on its IslamBook.net website.

IslamBook.net, which offers texts in Chinese on topics ranging from Islamic philosophy to the sporting life of ethnic Chinese Hui Muslims, was accessible from outside China on Tuesday.

The online store also offers a number of Islamic religious items including Malaysian-made hijabs and other clothing, Islamic arts and crafts and halal food items.

"I'm not sure what [Ma's] status was before he was detained again on Oct. 6," Gu told RFA. "It could be that he had a suspended sentence."

"His friends said that he was under residential surveillance at the time [of his detention] and that the police detaining him were from Xinjiang," he said.

"His hometown is in Xinjiang, and he was taken away on charges relating to 'terrorism'," Gu said.

He said an employee of the bookstore had told him that they were waiting "for the case to be processed according to the law."

"We are worried too," they said in a recording of the phone conversation with Gu. "It's hard to say what the final outcome will be, but ... don't be too worried. We have faith in the government and in the party."

Read more: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/bookstore-10102017111036.html

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