The Guardian reports that Xinjiang courts have sentenced 11 ethnic Uyghurs to a range of prison sentences on religious extremism charges:
Eight of those convicted came from the old Silk Road city of Kashgar, the Justice Ministry’s official newspaper Legal Daily reported on its website.
In one of the cases, the suspect went on illegal websites to download material that “whipped up religious fervour and preached ‘holy war'” and “whipped up ethnic enmity”, the Legal Daily said in its report late on Wednesday.
“This created a despicable effect on society,” the newspaper said, citing the court ruling.
Another suspect was jailed for spreading via the internet materials from overseas that “advocate religious extremism and terrorism”, the newspaper reported. Legal Daily said Aihetaimu Heli was given the harshest sentence of six years in jail for uploading to the internet materials promoting jihad and ethnic hatred. [Source]
The longest sentence, the six-year term given to Aihetaimu Heli for uploading extremist materials to the web, was handed down in the city of Aksu. In addition to that and the eight suspects imprisoned in Kashgar, the Global Times adds that two others were given short administrative detentions:
Local police in Bachu put a man in detention for 15 days and fined him 500 yuan ($81.5), after he uploaded to his blog audio files by overseas terrorist organizations in April, which spread ideas on religious extremism and terrorism to incite hatred among ethnic groups.
Similarly, a local resident surnamed Gu was given a five-day administrative detention by police in Urumqi after fabricating rumors about suicide bombings on the online messaging service QQ on May 21. [Source]
BBC News points out that the sentences were handed down just days before the fourth anniversary of violent riots in between Uyghurs and ethnic Chinese in Urumqi. In the years since, tensions have remained heightened as the Chinese government attempted to curb Uyghur influence and prevent what it views as the threat of radical islam on its western frontier. 20 were reportedly killed in February during fighting in Yechang, a town about 150 miles from the Pakistan border, amid allegations that police had set up checkpoints and were rounding up Uyghurs. In March, Xinjiang courts sentenced 20 people to jail, some for life, on charges of separatism and for plotting violent acts against the state. And more recently, a violent confrontation between officials and police and armed men in April left 21 people dead in Kashgar.