A British man has been arrested in China for allegedly organizing concerts of his single musl-Islamic album “White Widow” on the country’s popular online music portal, according to a British news agency.
The concert, which the man allegedly held from March 10 to April 2, was reportedly held in the capital Beijing, according the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
The newspaper reported that the man was detained at a police station in the northeastern city of Nanjing, which is also home to a large Muslim minority.
“We have made a formal complaint to the Chinese government to stop this type of conduct,” said a spokesman for the British Embassy in Beijing.
The arrest came days after a concert held by a British-Chinese artist in Nanjing was shut down after police received a complaint.
“It’s very disappointing that people who have made music in China are now being targeted for their artistic expression,” said Mark Condon, an activist and musician who has written songs about China and Muslim issues.
The London-based Muslim rights group B’Tselem said the arrests highlight the growing threat of violent extremism online.
“The arrests of this individual are part of a worrying trend that is threatening the very fabric of freedom of expression in the digital age,” said B’Tsselem’s Middle East director Mohammed Abrar.
He said the “White Widow” concerts, which featured British and Chinese musicians, drew an audience of more than 1,000 people and were held in front of a Chinese government building.
“There is a worrying level of extremism online in China, particularly online, and these cases are just the latest reminder of how vulnerable people are online,” he said.
A Chinese government spokesman said the authorities have investigated the incident and are investigating the matter “in accordance with the law.”
The arrests come as the United States, Britain, and France are investigating a growing number of alleged online threats targeting people of faith.
The White Widow music video, which was released in December, drew widespread criticism from people in the Muslim world.
“This is an extremely disturbing event that has targeted a British citizen and British citizens,” Abrars said.
“I think it’s very important that we make it clear that this is a global issue and we have to come together to confront this.”