Islamic twist to China's digital divorce drama

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Li Yang, the "Crazy English" founder, has enraged fans by announcing a conversion to the Muslim faith.

Li Yang is a superstar businessman and English teacher in China.  He’s also an admitted wife-beater. And now, he’s a member of the Muslim faith.

We’re beginning to think the guy likes the spotlight.

When his American-born wife, Kim Lee, first let the world know about the abuse on China’s largest social network in August, it sparked a major debate on domestic violence in the country—likely the first such debate enabled by social media.

Now it seems Li has made another social-media first. He shocked many of his nearly 1 million followers on Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese blogging site that’s a cross between Facebook and Twitter, by making the announcement on Nov. 6, the same day as the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha.

The Shanghaiist translated Li’s post:

“I have decided to learn and to believe in Islam because of a verse in the Quran which says the ink of scholars is more precious than the blood of martyrs. Let us all understand the true Islam! I am ashamed of my previous misconceptions on Islam! There is no God but Allah.”

Was the conversion genuine, a sign that Li Yang has become unhinged because of the scandal and his pending divorce, or just a joke? Nearly 60 percent of people in China are irreligious; less than 2 percent of the country’s 1.3 billion people are Muslim.

On Weibo, China’s largest Twitter-like microblogging service, Li Yang’s followers used the post as a chance to excoriate him.

“If only Allah wanted you,” Weibo user Houzhai wrote.

“All ready to find a new wife?” Shiyuedeniu wrote. “One is already down, will four stand up to replace her?”

Added Weibo user Yu Yantong: “You should feel ashamed of yourself. I feel ashamed for once believing you were truly talented.  . . . Don’t bother studying Islam. Any religion for you is a farce. You don’t deserve to be a husband, even less so a teacher. You’re already the scum of society, you know that, right? You’re whole life, you only care about yourself. Loser!”

Meanwhile, Kim Lee continued to turn to her Weibo account to pound Li with criticism.

“You have not accepted divorce papers,” she wrote on Weibo. “Religion does not excuse crime and you committed a CRIME. A crime for which you were not punished.”

sina weibo
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