BEIJING, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- China's religious authority has condemned the "lunatic" murder of an imam of the country's largest mosque, urging unity among Muslims.
Jume Tahir, 74, of the Id Kah Mosque in the city of Kashgar in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was killed at 6:58 a.m. on Wednesday after he finished hosting the morning ritual. He enjoyed a high reputation among Muslims nationwide, but his murder has been attributed to religious extremism.
The State Administration for Religious Affairs said in a statement on Friday that it was "deeply shocked" by the murder and described Jume Tahir's death as a "huge loss" for the country's Islamic circle.
It described Jume Tahir as a knowledgable and respected religious leader as well as a friend of the Communist Party of China (CPC) who supported the CPC's leadership and helped the Party and the government implement its policies of religious freedom and guide Muslims to carry out religious activities within the scope of law.
"Mobsters killed this virtuous old man and respected religious leader with extremely cruel methods. Their acts were inhuman and outrageous. They will inevitably suffer severe punishments by law and the denunciation of Muslims and all people with a conscience," the statement said.
The administration called on Muslims in Xinjiang to unite more closely around the Party and the government to oppose religious extremism, fight terrorism and contribute to national unity and the region's long-term security.
"Such brutality won't deter patriotic religious figures and vast numbers of worshippers. Justice will eventually prevail over evil," it added.