Aug. 16 and Aug. 25, I was in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China.
Invited by the State Council Information Office of China and Xinjiang, I was
part of a group of journalists who were sent to visit three major cities:
Urumqi, Aksu, and Kashgar. Our visit, which was covered by the Chinese
authorities, was stage-managed by Xinjiang authorities who wanted to convince
us that things are fine in Xinjiang.
in Urumqi on Aug. 16. From Aug. 17 to Aug. 19, we attended several lectures by
Communist Party officials regarding the history, religion and human rights
practices in Xinjiang. In these sessions, Chinese officials like Xu Guixiang
and Ma Pinyan delivered the white paper on Xinjiang, issued by the Chinese
lectures we were told that the Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims were migrants
in this region, Islam was forcefully imposed by the Arabs and Turks, and
Xinjiang has always been part of China. During our stay, we visited the Museum
of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in Urumqi, the Aksu Museum and the Kashgar
Museum. In these museums, the Chinese government is delivering the same message
from the white paper: Xinjiang has historically been Chinese, the Uighurs and
other Turkic Muslims are migrants, Islam is a foreign religion and it was
imposed by force on the Uighurs.
On top of
that, the Chinese were showing to the visitors that Islam was causing much
trouble in Xinjiang since it was a source of extremism and terrorism. To fight
that, the government of China had built some "Vocational Education and
Training Centres" where the extremists were being deradicalised.
On Aug. 20,
our hosts sent us to the city of Aksu to visit the Onsu County Vocational
Skills Training Centre. Here we were supposed to meet the "extremists and
terrorists" whom China was "deradicalising."
when we interviewed the "students" of these "Vocational Training
Centers" we found that they were not students but prisoners and they were
not terrorists but Muslim believers who were forced to renounce their faith
crimes were practicing Islam, praying to Allah, watching Muslim televangelist
videos on the internet, reading the Holy Quran or articles about Islam, writing
about Islam, reading Uighur history, wearing Hijabs, consuming Halal food,
burying their dead or marrying according to Islam and preaching Islam to their
interviews which I have recorded and uploaded on my YouTube channel prove that
the so-called "Vocational Training Centres" are not schools but mass
detention centres. These centres are used to mass brainwash the Turkic Muslims
of China, be them Uighur, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Uzbek, Tatar, etc, and force them to
renounce Islam and their Turkic identity and become Han Chinese.
Claims In Vain
China claims that it is fighting "three evils" in Xinjiang, ethnic
separatism, terrorism, and religious extremism, in fact, it is fighting the
Islamic identity of the Uighurs which makes them a different nation from Han
fighting against the diversity which in Xinjiang is represented by Islam. It
wants to destroy any sign of Islam and totally Sinicize the province, which is
a major power hub in China's One Road, One Belt project.
Muslims of Xinjiang, who do not present a separatist threat for China, are also
suffering similar problems like the Uighurs. Under the excuse of fighting
extremism, the Chinese authorities have declared Islam an extremist religion
and do not want a Muslim presence to stand in the centre of their Silk Road
project which stretches from Beijing into Asia, Africa, and Europe.
have banned the preaching and practice of Islam in Xinjiang and all state
institutions have been ordered to fight any sign of religious practice
("The Xinjiang Regulation on De-extremification," Chapter IV, Article
treating Xinjiang as an occupied territory and its native Turkic inhabitants
are considered as enemies who must be assimilated or destroyed. Xinjiang
authorities are destroying mosques, graveyards and ancient Islamic buildings,
and any sign of Islamic civilization that exists.
Pinyan told us during the lectures in Urumqi, the Chinese government wants to
Sinicize Islam. It does not want to see any Arabic or Turkic signs among its
Muslims. It does not want them to pray every day, to reject alcohol or women to
wear headscarves or marry according to the Quran.
Sinicisation of Islam is legally ordered in "The Xinjiang Regulation on
De-extremification," (Article 4) and the practice of Islam is totally
outlawed ("Regulation on De-extremification," Chapter II, Article 9).
Group reading of the Quran, teaching Islam to children, speaking about Islam,
having or reading Islamic literature, wearing religious clothing, watching
religious shows or advocating Islam in any sense is a crime that is punishable
with imprisonment or a long and painful "re-education" in "The
Vocational Training Centres."
authorities have prohibited the existence of minarets, the azan (call to
prayer), mosques with domes and when a new mosque is ever built it must be
shaped in Chinese architecture since the teleological narrative of the Chinese
government claims that Islam needs to be Sinicised, and it should not have any
Arabic or Turkic symbols.
the Sinicisation of Islam, Xinjiang authorities sponsor the Islamic Institute
of Xinjiang where selected imams are taught a restricted Chinese version of
Islam. The campaign of terror against the Muslim population has created a
climate of fear. We saw fear in the eyes of all the Muslims that we managed to
government has been mass colonizing Xinjiang with Chinese colonists since the
1950s. The Chinese, who in the 1950s counted for 5% to 9% of the population in
2010 count for 40%,. The colonization is continuing very aggressively nowadays
and it aims to turn the Muslims into a minority.
who are not being arrested and sent to concentration camps ("Vocational
Training Centres") or prisons are forced to take into their homes Chinese
colonists who live and sleep in the same house with Muslim families. Many
Uighur Muslim women are forced to marry Chinese men. Many Muslims are not
allowed to fast during Ramadan.
restaurants are forbidden to refuse to sell alcohol. The Uighurs who show the
slightest sing of Islam are separated from their families have their children
taken away and raised by the Chinese. The reign of fear, religious persecution
and ethnic assimilation that China is doing in East Turkistan amounts to
while the world is witnessing the mass persecution of Turkic Muslims of China
the Muslim world is ignoring it. To the shame of the Muslim world on July 8,
2019, some 22 non-Muslim states signed a letter addressed to the president of
the U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights
calling on China to end its massive detention program in Xinjiang.
Muslim majority states were absent from joining this letter, some 20 Muslim
states joined a list of 37 countries in support of China for what it is doing
letter prepared by the Chinese, it was written: "We appreciate China's
commitment to openness and transparency. China has invited several diplomats,
international organizations officials and journalists to Xinjiang to witness
the progress of the human rights cause and the outcomes of counterterrorism and
deradicalisation there. What they saw and heard in Xinjiang completely
contradicted what was reported in the media. We call on relevant countries to
refrain from employing unfounded charges against China based on unconfirmed
information before they visit Xinjiang..."
coming back from Xinjiang, as a Muslim scholar and journalist that I am, I
would like to tell the Muslim world that the "outcomes of counterterrorism
and deradicalisation" measures that China is doing in Xinjiang have been
the total prohibition of Islam and mass persecution of Muslims.
invited me like it has invited "several diplomats, international
organizations officials and journalists to Xinjiang to witness the progress of
the human rights cause and the outcomes of counterterrorism and
deradicalisation there." However, my findings prove that China is
persecuting the Uighurs only because they believe in Islam and are Muslims.
this open letter, I would like to appeal to all the Muslim countries who signed
the pro-China letter to reconsider their position. I am ready to testify
anywhere in the Muslim world about what China is doing with its Muslim
countries should reconsider their position and urge China to immediately stop
the persecution of Muslims and the prohibition of Islam in Xinjiang. China must
close its "Vocational Training Centres," release the religious and
political prisoners from prisons and detention camps, abolish the Islamophobic
and criminal "Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region De-extremification
Regulations," stop sending Chinese colonists to the homes of Uighurs and
order all state apparatuses and organs to stop their persecution of Muslims.
stop its Islamophobic policies that target the Muslims, their religion,
history, culture and way of life. It must stop the forced Sinicisation of
Turkic people (Uighur, Kazakh, Kirgiz, Uzbek, Tatar, and et cetera), the
destruction of mosques and historical buildings.
allow the Muslims of Xinjiang to have passports, to move freely in and out of
China, to call the Adhan from their mosques, to have Halal food, to perform
Hajj in Mecca and to be able to teach Islam to their children.
authorities should adopt multiculturalism and accept the Uighurs and other
Turkic Muslims of China as ordinary citizens equal to native Chinese, and Islam
as one of the religions of China. China should revise the way it perceives its
history and should accept Islam as an integral part of China and not as an
these demands and reminding China that the Muslim world is a very important
client, the Muslim countries must ask for the protection of their Muslim
brethren who, at present, are suffering mass-persecution in the Xinjiang Uighur
Headline: What can the Muslim world do
to save the Uighurs and Islam in China?
Source: The Daily Sabah