A media delegation from Egypt spoke highly of the stability, development, and de-extremism work in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region after visiting the area.
The group members visited Xinjiang from Jan. 25 to 31 at the invitation of the State Council Information Office and the Embassy of China in Egypt. After visiting and talking with local residents and learners at vocational training centers, the Egyptian journalists noted the "China experience" in effectively combating terrorism and extremism through addressing both the symptoms and root causes.
Kamal Gaballa, a columnist with Al-Ahram newspaper, watches Rehman Abdulla making a traditional music instrument called dutar in a village of Shufu County. [Photo: Xinhua]
STABILITY, RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
During a visit to a newly opened night market in Hotan, Adel Ali, a senior editor and researcher of Egypt's State Information Service, found that the development of Xinjiang's tourism had helped improve people's lives, and consolidated social stability in the region.
Last year, Xinjiang hosted more than 150 million tourists, up 40 percent year on year.
In a village of Shufu County, the group members saw Rehman Abdulla making a traditional music instrument called dutar. His sons were playing music with the instrument.
"Through traditional music and dance, people get to display their distinctive culture and share their joy with others," said Lamiaa Ramadan with Nile TV. "It is the efforts of the Chinese government that have enabled the diverse culture in Xinjiang to pass on."
In mosques like the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, modern facilities abound, providing water, electricity and air conditioning. Local clerics told the visitors that their legitimate religious activities had been very well protected.
"The conditions here are very good," said Abdelhalim Elwerdany, with Egypt's Al-Gomhuria newspaper. "I could feel that local Muslims fully enjoy religious freedom."
"The government has created a very good environment for the clerics," said Kamal Gaballa, a columnist with Al-Ahram newspaper, after visiting the Xinjiang Islamic Institute.
In the past, southern Xinjiang was home to many impoverished people, and some locals had poor language skills and lacked the skills to find jobs. The situation made the area susceptible to terrorism and extremism. Last year, Xinjiang poured 33.4 billion yuan (4.98 billion U.S. dollars) into anti-poverty funds to help people live better lives, with 92.3 percent of the funds channeled to southern Xinjiang.
The group visited a garment factory in Shule County, which employs more than 200 local people, including Arizgul Nurmemet. Arizgul has been working in the factory for more than a year, and makes more than 3,000 yuan a month.
"In Egypt, farmers need to go to cities to find jobs if they want to increase their income," said Abdelhalim. "The factory in the rural area can be a good example for us to learn from, so that farmers can get rid of poverty without leaving their hometown."
Nermin Khalil, a senior TV announcer in Egypt, bought clothes for her children at the factory. She said that the factory truly improved local people's livelihood.
"Poverty and ignorance are the hotbed of extreme thoughts, and if people can live good lives, extremism will certainly disappear," she said.
Abdelhalim Elwerdany of Egypt's Al-Gomhuria newspaper takes selfie with children from a village kindergarten in Hotan. [Photo: Xinhua]
Xinjiang has been promoting pre-school education in recent years, with modern kindergartens built in many villages in Kashgar and Hotan.
In a village kindergarten in Hotan, children were dancing with their teacher. The classroom has all the modern facilities, and the beds were clean and tidy.
"Education can prevent people from the impact of extremism," said Lamiaa Ramadan.
Meanwhile, Xinjiang has provided lots of job opportunities for locals thanks to its cross-border trade.
Maher Maklad, with Al-Ahram newspaper, said that stability was key to continued economic growth. "For any locality in the world, stability is key to development."
Vocational training centers provide language, law, and skill courses. They also help eliminate extremism and prevent people with minor criminal acts from falling victim to terrorism and extremism.
At the vocational training center in Hotan, trainees can choose cooking, vehicle repairing and hairdressing classes.
Hamdi Emam, a cameraman for Nile TV, is shooting students studying at Kashgar Vocational Training Center. [Photo: Xinhua]
I find that the training centers are completely unlike the reports of some Western media, which said that they mistreated learners," said Kamal Gaballa, who visited several training centers in places such as Hotan and Kashgar.
Trainees study language and law, and learn how to treat others kindly. This great measure is an effective means to get rid of extremism. I will tell all what I see here truthfully to Egyptian people."
Villager Nurmemet Tursun has just finished his training at the center. Relying on the noodle-making skill he learned there, he opened a vegetable and noodle shop. His family lives a much better life than before.
My camera captured the smiling faces of many trainees. They understand that receiving training is for the sake of themselves and are willing to study here," said Hamdi Emam, a cameraman for Nile TV.