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Fury at torn Mao pics

By Du Liya (Global Times)

08:37, November 05, 2012

Four young men who uploaded pictures of themselves tearing up portraits of Mao Zedong to their Weibo microblog accounts went into hiding Saturday. Earlier that day, one of them was released by the police after being detained for a day in Zhengzhou, Henan Province.

"Their behavior has drawn so much fire both online and offline from Mao's supporters that they have received many hate phone calls threatening their safety over the past week," said one of Cao's friends on condition of anonymity.

Cao Xiaodong, 22, a college graduate and a volunteer at HIV aid stations in Henan, were detained for over 24 hours by the Zhengzhou police for questions before he was released on Friday night. The other three participants were not detained or questioned.

Cao's girlfriend, who goes by the name Yejiang1 on Weibo, started an online campaign for his release after Cao's detention. Her posts sparked such heated debate that the microblog service provider Sina shut her account down on Saturday to avoid an escalation of conflicts.

In a Weibo post, Cheng Shuaishuai, one of the other three participants, wrote that he doesn't want to justify their behavior. "I believe it's just how a citizen expresses his opinion and participates in politics, in a peaceful way."

Meng Fangui, a law professor from Peking University, wrote on his Weibo account that ripping up portraits is part of the rights people are entitled to, including freedom of thought, speech and action.

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