Chinese Muslims embarking on the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca are being outfitted with GPS trackers in what experts are warning is likely part of China’s widespread surveillance programs.
The state-run China Islamic Association said the purpose of the system is to make the trip safer for the thousands of pilgrims required to wear the device.
However, experts say that many Muslims in China are closely monitored by the government, and the trackers are likely an extension of the surveillance systems already in place.
Chinese Muslims embarking on the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca are being outfitted with GPS trackers in what experts are warning is likely part of China’s widespread surveillance program already in place.
This year, about 11,500 Chinese Muslims are expected to head to Saudi Arabia for the month-long Hajj celebration, beginning on August 19, a slow decline from 14,500 in 2016 and 12,800 last year.
State-run China Islamic Association, which claims to represent ethnic Muslim groups in China, posted photos of the first batch of Chinese Muslims preparing to depart for Mecca. Photos show pilgrims wearing GPS trackers around their necks as they prepare for their journey.
According to the Global Times, each device includes a QR code connected to an app that reveals the wearer’s photo, passport number, address, and name in both Chinese and English. The Islamic Association, which closely monitors and organizes the Hajj trips, claimed the devices make the trip safer for the user.
“Using the GPS, the app can also help Chinese organizers see the real-time location of the pilgrims, which organizers say will help facilitate management of the activity that lasts nearly 40 days,” a trip organizer who did not want to be identified told Global Times.
However, experts say that this system likely hints that the government is looking …read more
Source:: Business Insider