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Chinese government used online trolls, Wumao Army, to insult Islam and hurt Uyghur Muslims: Report

Theodoros Benakis, managing editor of New Europe, in a European Interest report has written that China’s genocidal policy toward Uyghurs, an ethnic Turkish group who live in Xinjiang, has reached a new low. The report highlights how the Wumao army, also known as the “50 Cent Army”, who are recognised as the Chinese government’s trolls, are used to insult Islam and commit ‘blasphemy’ against the Prophet.

Notably, the Wumao Army is a digital group of state-backed internet critics, who are active on Chinese social media insulting the religious sentiments of the Uyghur Muslims.   Despite having close ties to conservative Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, and the Arabian Peninsula, China’s social media frequently depicts Muslims as radicals and terrorists. 

Benakis went on to assert that China is using Islamophobia as a tool to discriminate against, and isolate Uyghur Muslims as well as gain support for the policies adopted by the Chinese government in Xinjiang. “Through posts on social media, the Wumao Army insults Islam and unleashes blasphemy on Prophet”, Benakis wrote.

The unrestrained trolling and detraction of Islam have gone beyond all bounds, and this group of social media users made comments that would have sparked public outrage in any other part of the world. The Weibo Army aids the government in Xinjiang by spreading anti-Muslim propaganda, insulting Islam, and justifying Beijing’s discriminatory policies.

According to the European Interest report, several Chinese Muslims have revealed that Islamophobia is being used as a practice in Xinjiang and the mainland to boost Chinese President Xi Jinping’s cultural policy. Chinese citizens use Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform, to justify their rejection of Islam.

Numerous Chinese citizens have expressed their absolute support for the new cultural policy and have given their approval to oust Uyghur Muslims from Xinjiang. Muslims in China conducted a month-long investigation into this new cyber social practice and noticed that the users who introduced Islamophobia in the majority of discussions are known as the Wumao 50 Cent Army. This social media group interprets the Quran and Hadiths in a derogatory manner. Such content is then shared on Weibo, along with erroneous references, in order to foster acceptance of Islam as a negative religion, the European Interest report claims.  

The Chinese Communist Party’s vision sees their country to be the home solely of the Han people. Following his election to a third term, Chinese President Xi Jinping is using every means possible to achieve his simple and bleak goal of “a unified China inhabited by a unified people”.

At a two-day party conference in September 2020, the Chinese President reaffirmed his commitment to Beijing policies in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. “Practice has demonstrated that the party’s strategy for governing Xinjiang in the new era is entirely correct,” Xi Jinping said.

In 2018, a Chinese board was seen at the school gate in Turpan, an Uyghur-majority city in Xinjiang, reading, “You are about to enter the school grounds. Please converse in Guoyu, which is Mandarin, the national language of China.” According to European Interest, a policy of “cultural genocide” in China is underway.

According to the European Interest report, Uyghur Muslim families are the target of a brutal program that isolates children from their mothers and sends them to state institutions or to live with Chinese families.

Notably, on 16th November 2022, Uyghur Human Rights Project published a report on the measures taken by the Chinese government to promote marriages between Uyghur Muslims and Han Chinese ethnic groups. The means employed by the Chinese government consist of both incentivisation and coercive actions, underlines the report.

The Uyghur Human Rights Project examined Chinese state media, policy documents, testimonies of government-approved marriages, as well as accounts from women in the Uyghur community, and discovered that since 2014, the government has increased incentives and coercion to encourage inter-ethnic marriages.

The report is titled ‘Forced Marriage of Uyghur Women: State Policies for Interethnic Marriage in East Turkistan’. Andréa J. Worden, Nuzigum Setiwaldi, Dr. Elise Anderson, Dr. Henryk Szadziewski, Louisa Greve, and Ben Carrdus are the authors of this report. According to the report, the Chinese Party-State is actively involved in carrying out a campaign of forcefully assimilating Uyghurs into Han Chinese society by means of mixed marriages.

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