New Anti-Corruption Training Courses In China Prompt Scorn



(BEIJING) - The Chinese Communist Party has recently come up with a new bright idea on how to curb rampant corruption among China’s officialdom: training courses on how to identify conspicuous consumption.

By organizing "appraisal lessons of luxury goods and artifacts," the cadres of the party’s discipline-inspection committees will learn how to "recognize which officials are corrupt,” the Yangzhi River Daily reported, quoting from an official of the Beijing Commission for Discipline Inspection.

The news has provoked an immediate wave of both criticism and cackles on China’s internet. “This is a way for the anti-corruption officials themselves to learn how to be corrupt without getting caught... Even a pig would laugh at such idea!” said the Epoch Times citing a netizen’s words. “So now these officials know how to tell what is fake, what is genuine and what to accept, what to refuse,” another commented.

Xu Bingtao, a writer with the Weifang Evening Post stated "This is heterodoxy. The fundamental strategy to eradicating the malignant tumor of corruption is by publishing officials’ assets so that they are scrutinized under the sunshine.”

Even the China Daily, a state-owned newspaper, pointed out in its editorial that “The simple wearing of some item doesn’t necessarily impugn an official’s honesty...Constraints on corruption shouldn’t be fragmented, nor just concerned with the correction of minutiae.”

The discipline-inspection committees, the enforcers for the Chinese Communist Party, run their own parallel judicial system. It possesses great power and its main function is to investigate officials who are corrupt or who do not comply with party policy. Officials unfortunate enough to attract attention can be detained secretly for indefinite periods without trial.

The Chinese public have welcomed crackdowns, having grown disgusted by the common greediness and outlandish eye-catching extravagance of their officials. Lately, the Director of the Work Safety Department of Shannxi Province became notorious, after being exposed in various photos from China’s netizens, for owning a dozen top brand watches.

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Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.


Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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