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China jails 19 Muslims for extremist activities in Xinjiang province

Chinese officials have jailed ethnic Uigurs for promoting hatred and religious extremism online.

Uigurs sentenced jail chinaEnlarge
Ethnic Uigurs pass Chinese soldiers guarding the Grand Bazaar in Urumqi, in China's farwest Xinjiang region. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

China sentenced 19 Muslims in Xinjiang province to jail time Thursday for promoting religious extremism and hatred online. 

The harshest term was six years, handed down to Aihetaimu Heli for publishing material that spread ethnic-based hate on the internet, the Associated Press reported

He reportedly downloaded material which "whipped up religious fervor and preached 'holy war'" and "whipped up ethnic enmity," the Legal Daily reported, according to Reuters. "This created a despicable effect on society." 

The other sentences were for between two to five years, and two other people were fined and given lesser punishments for spreading suicide bombing rumors on the popular QQ Internet messaging service. 

All those sentenced were native Uighurs. The Turkish-speaking Muslim ethnic group is subject to restrictions on its culture, language, and religious practices by Beijing. China's government, however, maintains that it gives Uighurs wide-ranging freedoms. 

The Chinese government also accuses Uighurs of being linked to Central Asian and Pakistani Islamist militants, and of launching terrorist attacks in order to carve out their own nation, the AP noted. 

More from GlobalPost: China: Does it have a radical Islam problem?

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/130620/china-jails-19-muslim-extremists-xinjiang-province