A Chinese New Year's Eve suicide attempt by followers of the Falun Gong cult has prompted calls from people for harsher measures to deal with the cult.
The incident took place on January 23, when seven members of the cult, including a 12-year-old girl, set themselves on fire on Tian'anmen Square. One died and four were seriously injured.
Leaders from five major religions in China have expressed their indignation about the crimes committed by the evil cult.
The Tian'anmen Square incident demonstrates the Falun Gong's anti-social and anti-human nature, turning a blind eye to human rights and human life, Chinese religious leaders said on Wednesday.
Michael Fu Tieshan, chairman of the China Catholic Patriotic Association, was angered by the appalling incident.
He said it proves that the Falun Gong is not a religion, but an out-and-out evil cult, noting that Li Hongzhi intended to damage social stability and the auspicious atmosphere of the Spring Festival regardless of the cost of the lives of his followers.
Fu's viewpoints were echoed by other religious leaders.
Hoodwinked by the malicious fallacies of Li Hongzhi, founder of the Falun Gong cult, five practitioners, including a 12-year-old girl and her mother, soaked themselves in gasoline and set themselves on fire at around 2:40 pm on the eve of China's Lunar New Year. Another two failed to ignite themselves and were stopped by police. The mother died on the spot and four others were injured. Police rushed to their rescue and immediately sent the injured to the local hospital.
Yanjue, a Buddhist master from the Guangji Temple in Beijing, believes the case is yet another lesson for the ignorant Falun Gong practitioners.
Akhund Ma Yunfu, vice-chairman of the Islamic Association of China, pointed out that the cult is the same as other evil sects in America and Africa, and that cracking down on them is vital to protect human rights.
Priest Shi Zesheng, vice-chairman of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee of the Protestant Churches of China, said that while organizing the incident, the leaders of the Falun Gong cult denied their involvement with it. The incident has again proved that the cult is a malign tumour in society, he said, calling on the general public to remove it.
On Wednesday, Chinese scientists described the recent suicide incident as an obsessive and shocking action which revealed the "anti-humanity, anti-society and anti-science" nature of the cult.
Lu Yongxiang, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), said he was shocked and outraged and said the cult had shown its true colours as a cult that confronted the people and the government at the expense of the lives and families of its own members, while advocating truthfulness, goodness and endurance. He predicted the fight against the cult will be a long one. Cults will be eliminated only when science is deeply rooted in the mind of the broad masses, he said, adding that the CAS, China's leading research organization, will continue to try its best to popularize science in the future.
Nuclear Scientist He Zuoxiu, who began to denounce the Falun Gong cult in April 1999, said the terrifying suicide attempt of the seven cult members represents the typical blinding action of all world cults. He and many other scientists felt sorry for and sympathized with the fate of two beautiful girls badly burnt in the event. He said the cult has been rapidly politicizing itself and very few cults in the world have been so politicized as them.
"I've received lots of letters and leaflets from the cult, many of which viciously attacked top leaders of the Chinese Government," said He. He and some other scientists called for greater efforts to educate cult members and toughen measures against the very few extremists.
Teachers at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing have convened to condemn the Falun Gong cult, who bewitched the conservatory's sophomore Chen Guo to try and kill herself with the other six on January 23.
Chen, 19, specializes in playing the traditional Chinese instrument pipa at the conservatory.
Liu Xiangyan, headmaster of the primary school affiliated to the Central Conservatory of Music, recalled Chen Guo started her music education at the school when she was 11 years old. The pretty girl was from Kaifeng, Central China's Henan Province. After successfully competing with thousands of applicants nationwide, she got into the prestigious school two years ago, Liu said.
Jiang Zhichao, one of the heads of the department, said the school discovered in 1999 that Chen was a Falun Gong practitioner. At the help from the school, Chen promised she would stop joining in the cult's activities.
But her mother, also a member of the cult, affected her again during the winter holiday, Jiang said.