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Uyghur Muslims – Turmoil in China

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*One very important note before continuing, the Chinese government has apparently restricted internet access, so the most readily available information is from mainstream media outlets. This post is simply meant to provide a recap of the situation as it is being reported. [See also, Chinese media coverage of the incident]


The situation in China finally hit the CNN frontpage briefly before getting drowned out by a story about Michael Jackson’s skin color, a ‘sexting’ teen, cops buying a doughnut shop, and Obama girls causing a fashion stir.

Thankfully, the beacon of balance and fairness in America – Fox News – had a small line about, “China Vows Executions for Rioters Behind Killings” (not much information there), buried underneath a story letting us know that it has not yet been clarified whether Michael Jackson will get a butter statue memorial or not (see “Jacko Butter Debate Churns“).

To find out what is going on requires some digging, and we hope to bring a recap to the events unfurling in China, and specifically how the Uyghur Muslim population there is affected.

Before continuing on to the present protests and incidents, it is important to quickly look at some of the history of the Uyghurs in China.

The Washington Post has put together a brief primer on the conflicts between China’s various ethnic groups here.  The BBC also gives a historical breakdown of the events starting from around the 1940’s. One of the primary causes for conflict is the restrictions the Chinese government have placed on the ability of Uyghur Muslims to practice their religion. All religions are subject to state control by the government, but Islam seems to have received the harshest regulations. This is partially motivated by politics as well,

This severity is a result of the association between Muslim groups and the independence movement in Xinjiang, a movement that is absolute anathema to Beijing.

BBC also notes that the policies implemented have seemed to incite an excess amount of tension that the government seems unwilling to take responsibility for,

Severe repression since the launch of a “Strike Hard” campaign in 1996 has included harsher controls on religious activity, restrictions on movement, the denial of passports and the detention of individuals suspected of support for separatists and members of their families.

This has created a climate of fear and a great deal of resentment towards the authorities and the Han Chinese. ….

In the past, Beijing has also blamed an Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement for causing unrest, although there is no evidence that this ever existed in Xinjiang.

The authorities in Beijing are unable to accept that their own policies in Xinjiang might be the cause of the conflict, and seek to blame outsiders for inciting the violence – as they do in the case of the Dalai Lama and Tibet.

Not surprisingly, the Chinese government has also tried to label the Uyghurs as terrorists, despite a lack of evidence for the assertion (from BBC),

Beijing says Uighur militants have been waging a violent campaign for an independent state by plotting bombings, sabotage and civic unrest.

Since the 9/11 attacks in the US, China has increasingly portrayed its Uighur separatists as auxiliaries of al-Qaeda.

It has accused them of receiving training and indoctrination from Islamist militants in neighbouring Afghanistan, although little public evidence has been produced in support of these claims.

More than 20 Uighurs were captured by the US military after its invasion of Afghanistan. Although they were imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay for six years, they were not charged with any offence and many have now been accepted for resettlement elsewhere.

MuslimMatters also touched upon some of the crackdowns last year, noting restrictions placed upon the Muslims in Ramadan.  And while the situation is affecting the predominantly Muslim minority there, there is a group of Christian Uyghurs that are also affected.

The violence occurring now is a fallout from protests that took place in response to clashes there. According to the BBC,

The Uighurs in Urumqi were reportedly angry over an ethnic clash last month in the city of Shaoguan in southern Guangdong province.

A man there was said to have posted a message on a local website claiming six boys from Xinjiang had “raped two innocent girls”.

Police said the false claim sparked a vicious brawl between Han and Uighur ethnic groups at a factory. Two Uighurs were killed and 118 people were injured.

A Korean paper also fills in a few holes,

Demonstrations that took place two days ago in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, led to major clashes that killed over 150 and wounded an estimated 800. The situation on the ground remains serious, with demonstrators regathering despite tight guard by military and police. … Most of the victims of the bloodshed were innocent victims.

Uyghur separatists who are pursuing sedition by stroking ethnic nationalism share in the blame for the recurring bloodshed in the region, but the Chinese authorities, who blame the separatists for the government’s severe crackdown, are also at fault. It is being reported that this incident started with a fight between Han Chinese and Uyghur workers at a toy factory in Guangdong province last month. Xinhua reported that two Uyghur workers were killed and about 60 injured when Han Chinese workers were provoked by rumors that a Uyghur worker had raped a Han woman. Photos of the scene, with people standing next to the bodies, circulated on the Internet, flaming anger from the Uyghur community. Uyghurs are saying the government lowballed the casualty figure and demanded it reveal the truth. These actions provided the backdrop for the latest bloodshed.

It is being said that Uyghurs are rioting due to strong feelings of being victimized by discrimination. The Turkic and Muslim Uyghurs have a different ethnicity, culture and language from the Han Chinese. ….

Ultimately, the Uyghur incident originates with China’s policies towards ethnic minorities. Without active efforts to respect the ethnic identity of minorities and reduce economic discrimination, the unrest in Xinjiang and Tibet cannot help but repeat itself. China must now re-examine its ethnic minority policies at its source.

Radio Free Europe adds that this is only the tip of the iceberg,

The fierceness of the rioting, in which by official count more than 150 people died, points to deeper wellsprings of discontent.

“Why they are so upset at the situation is because, every day, the government brings in hundreds, thousands, of [Han] Chinese into our motherland, East Turkestan — the Xinjiang autonomous region — but at the same time our people are sitting without jobs, suffering,” says Nizam Sametov of the Uyghur U.K. Association in London.

Sametov asserts that Chinese policy is to offer jobs to Uyghurs elsewhere in China, outside the Xinjiang region, thus reducing the concentration of this ethnic group. On the other hand, in the last five decades, there has been heavy Han immigration, so that today, Uyghurs barely outnumber the immigrants. … “Because our land is very rich in minerals, oil, gas, they just keep coming, every day bringing people from inside China to our own land. They hope soon that we will be a small minority, but we won’t,” Sametov says. “It is our own land.”

How the violence started is heavily disputed. The Uyghurs claim that the police started firing upon them, and the Chinese authorities say that the Uyghurs started the violence. The Chinese government’s control of the media has not helped produce the truth in this matter either.

A witness in the Xinjiang city of Kashgar told AP there was a protest there on Monday of about 300 people but there were no clashes with police. It is still unclear who died in Urumqi and why so many were killed.The Xinjiang government blamed separatist Uighurs based abroad for orchestrating attacks on ethnic Han Chinese. But Uighur groups insisted their protest was peaceful and had fallen victim to state violence, with police firing indiscriminately on protesters in Urumqi.Dolkun Isa, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) in Munich, disputed the official figures, saying the protest was 10,000 strong and that 600 people were killed. He rejected reports on Xinhua that it had instigated the protests. (BBC)

The Xinjiang government said that WUC leader Rebiya Kadeer was behind it, but she has denied such accusations, comparing them to the accusations that the Dalai Lama was behind Tibetan violence.

In reaction, many of the Han Chinese took to the streets as well.

There were reports of Han mobs assaulting Muslim Uighurs throughout the city, even as helicopters hovered overhead.

Ethnic Han Chinese residents armed with makeshift weapons and vowing revenge on Uighurs were seen roaming the streets for a second day.  (VOA)

AP recaps the violence,

Thousands of Chinese troops flooded into this city Wednesday to separate feuding ethnic groups after three days of communal violence left 156 people dead, and a senior Communist Party official vowed to execute those guilty of murder in the rioting in western China. Long convoys of armored cars and green troop trucks with riot police rumbled through Urumqi … Other security forces carrying automatic rifles with bayonets formed cordons to defend Muslim neighborhoods from marauding groups of vigilantes with sticks. ….

Officials have said 156 people were killed as the Turkic-speaking Uighurs ran amok in the city, beating and stabbing the Han Chinese. The Uighurs allege that trigger-happy security forces gunned down many of the protesters, and officials have yet to give an ethnic breakdown of those killed. ….

“When the Uighurs heard the people were fired upon, parents all came out looking for their sons and daughters,” he said, adding that security forces started to “disperse them by force, then started to beat them, tear gas them and shoot them.” [This] account could not be independently confirmed.
More than 1,100 people were wounded in the violence. Dr. Yuan Hong of Urumqi People’s Hospital said most of the people treated at his facility were clubbed, while others had been cut by knives.

Ahmet was quick to rattle off a long list of grievances commonly mentioned by Uighurs. He accused the Han Chinese of discrimination and alleged that government policies were forcing them to abandon their culture, language and Islamic faith. … His neighborhood in southern Urumqi was targeted by mobs of Han Chinese who roamed the capital Tuesday seeking revenge. Ahmet’s friends had video shot by mobile phones and cameras that showed the stick-wielding Han men beating Uighurs. He pointed to blood stains on a white concrete apartment wall, where he said a Uighur was severely stabbed.

A Uighur college student who called herself Parizat added, “The men were carrying a Chinese flag. I never thought something like this would happen. We’re all Chinese citizens.”

The Uighurs accused paramilitary police of allowing the Han Chinese to attack their neighbors. But in the video, the troops appeared to be trying to block or restrain the mobs.

On Wednesday, the government warned residents against carrying weapons on the street, and most people generally complied. But there were groups of Han Chinese who tried to find soft spots in police cordons and rush into Uighur neighborhoods. ….

The ethnic hatred in Xinjiang appears to run so deep that many Uighurs won’t express sorrow for the Han Chinese who were attacked Sunday.
One of them was Dong Yuanyuan, 24, a newlywed who said she was on a bus with her husband getting ready to leave on their honeymoon. She said Uighur attackers dragged them off the bus and beat them until they were unconscious. Her husband was still missing, said the woman, who had abrasions on her face, arms and knees.

“My aunts have been going to all the hospitals to search for him. He must still be unconscious,” she told reporters who joined a government tour at the People’s Hospital.

Abdul Rehim, a Uighur with his left arm in a sling, said he was walking with his brother when a group of Han Chinese “just came out and did this to me.”

Another victim was Ma Weihong, who said she was walking home from a park with her 10-year-old son when the riot started. The boy suffered minor injuries, but the mother had a broken arm and wrist, missing teeth and head wounds.

Amidst the religious, political, and ethnic factors at play, unfortunately, it is the innocent civilians who become the victims.

Retaliation by the Han

Retaliation by the Han

The Huffington Post has a nice article which touches on some of the ramifications and expected outcomes of this incident,

For a few reasons, the Communist Party’s response is likely to be harsher, and even more sustained, than last year’s response to the Tibetan uprising. ….

Second, the outside world’s familiarity with Xinjiang and Uighur plight is low. The region has never been romanticized in film and literature and only a few foreigners have visited. There are no transcendent architectural wonders a la Tibet’s Potala Palace that capture Western imagination. There is no roving ambassador, no Dalai Lama, to elicit sympathy for compromised values. Therefore, the global community’s response will be muted, led by diplomats and human rights groups, rather than CNN, bloggers and an indignant mass of activists. The issue will, sadly, fade quickly from the world’s moral radar screen. The Party will have significant room to maneuver.Third, the American “war on terrorism” – replete with kangaroo military courts and torture-extracted confessions – will make it more difficult for the West defend the interests of Uighur demonstrators, whom the Party has branded “terrorists.” Yes, there are a few separatists amongst the agitators, some of whom advocate violence as a means of advancing independence. The majority, however, want equal opportunity and protection under the law, and nothing more. But American Geneva Convention violations will lead to relatively sotte voce diplomatic condemnation.

Finally, and most critically, Chinese people “fear” Uighurs more than Tibetans. The former is unfamiliar, an “alien nation.” The latter, on the other hand, is a hot tourist destination. (Tibetans practice Buddhism and their appearance is not starkly different from the Han.) The people expect their government, first and foremost, to protect the country from danger. Most mainlanders view the unknown as a threat to stability and unity, a sacred national imperative. If the Party is seen as “soft” in dealing with the uprising, it will lose credibility — even legitimacy — in the eyes of many citizens, including new generation types, perhaps the most nationalist group of all. Despite a universal belief that the “autonomous region” is an inalienable part of China, denizens of Xinjiang are regarded as outsiders. Their religion, Islam, is “foreign,” associated with violence. (Only the Hui, an assimilated and geographically scattered Muslim minority, have been accepted as “real” Chinese.) Ethnically, the Uighur do not resemble Han. Their eyes are rounder and lighter. Their skin is olive, not “yellow.” In smaller towns, the Uighur, a Turkic people, do not speak fluent Mandarin due to a culturally tone deaf, memorization-driven education system.

What’s Next?

So what will happen? The rebellion will be contained and Uighurs will continue to seethe.

To avoid adding fuel to the fire, the government will avoid extremely harsh measures – e.g., open gunfire — and keep the death count to a minimum. But make no mistake. Any fear of international opprobrium will not dampen the government’s determination to smother dissent. Under the guise of safeguarding stability, it will use coercive means to stanch future uprisings – e.g., torture, a continued tightening of digital communication that lasts for months, travel bans for Uighurs and journalists that extend into 2011, continued demolition of traditional neighborhoods and Draconian bans on community/religious congregation. The Communist Party believes “to scare the chicken, you must kill a monkey.” So it will hold high-profile show trials, covered only in Chinese publications. Some verdicts will carry the death penalty. Leaders will refuse to “negotiate” with Uighur leaders. Tension with minority populations will increase, reinforced by continued hiring discrimination and old-style, propaganda. (Today’s China Daily headline: “Locals hope for normal life after riot.”) I wish I could say the government will adopt a conciliatory approach and acknowledge the legitimacy of some grievances but primal dread of “looking weak,” exacerbated by a disinterested West, will cause tension to mount.

Mona Eltahawy also touches on a few similar points in an article as well.
See also: Slideshow of the Unrest

In the past, Beijing has also blamed an Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement for causing unrest, although there is no evidence that this ever existed in Xinjiang.
The authorities in Beijing are unable to accept that their own policies in Xinjiang might be the cause of the conflict, and seek to blame outsiders for inciting the violence – as they do in the case of the Dalai Lama and Tibet.

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Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters and Qalam Institute. He teaches Islamic seminars across the US including Khateeb Workshop and Fiqh of Social Media. He has served in varying administrative capacities for multiple national and local Islamic organizations. You can follow his work at



  1. Avatar

    The Muslim Idealist

    July 9, 2009 at 12:59 AM

    Asalaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatu,

    I am glad the spotlight is finally being put on the Uighers; they have been suffering for a really long time in conditions we really couldn’t imagine (much like the religious crackdown on Muslims in Mecca at the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him).

    What is actually much worse and is coming into light now with these riots is the attempt at watering-down Uighur culture and majority status through incentives aimed at immigration of Han Chinese to the region (much like the settlement movement in the Occupied Territories of Palestine).

    I just wrote up an article on the issue and how SubhanAllah some aspects of Chinese culture were actually preserved by the Uighars after the Chinese government tried to rid them from their culture during the Boxer and Cultural revolution of the early 1900’s. Specifically, most people don’t know that Uighars actually have the most authentic Kung fu (Gung Fu) in the world.

    See: Muslim Uighar Gung Fu, the Most Authentic in the World

    SubhanAllah, it’s also great to see Uighars during Hajj. They are all very old grey-bearded people, as the government won;t allow them to make hajj until they are very old. It’s even more amazing to see them pick up an arabic mushaf and start reading Qu’ran with ease — makes you emotional.

  2. Pingback: Muslim Uighar Gung Fu — The Most Authentic in the World | Muslim Idealist

  3. Avatar

    Yus from the Nati

    July 9, 2009 at 1:14 AM

    May Allah make it easy for all the Muslims in the struggle.

  4. Avatar


    July 9, 2009 at 1:36 AM

    inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon. Allahumma a’izzal islaama wal muslimeen.

    I remember a few years ago shaykh Waleed told us to look beyond what is apparent when a calamity strikes. He mentioned the tsunami and how hundreds of Muslims, by the permission of Allah, received the honorable status of a shaheed because they drowned yet many people questioned “why” Allah would decree a disaster like that – audhubillah. We ask Allah to grant us the patience and wisdom to see the benefits in His Decree.

    wa makaroo wa makr Allah wal Allahu khayr al Maakireen – they plotted and Allah planned, and Allah is the Best of Planners.

    • Avatar


      July 12, 2009 at 8:38 AM

      wa tarjoona minAllahi ma la yarjoon…

  5. Avatar


    July 9, 2009 at 2:25 AM


    These are among the trials and tribulations (fitan and al-harj: killing) that the Prophet [صلى الله عليه و سلم] warned us about. No doubt we are closer to the Hour than we have prepared ourselves for. May Allah make it easy for all our brethren to practise Islam where ever they are on earth. May He make it easy for them to bear these trials with patience and hope. And may He admit the martyrs to Paradise. Ameen.

  6. Avatar


    July 9, 2009 at 3:12 AM

    SubahanAllah, may Allah protect them. Ameen.
    I was talking to a colleague from China and apparently he’s clueless, or rather not informed. Astargfirllah.

  7. Pingback: Uyghur Muslims – Turmoil in China | « euraktiva

  8. Avatar


    July 9, 2009 at 7:06 AM

    check out this solid article on

    “What if the uighurs were christian and not muslim?”

  9. Avatar


    July 9, 2009 at 10:28 AM

    inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon

    I pray to Allah(swt) to protect our Muslim brothers and sisters in China and give them sabr and make it easy for them to practice their Deen. I pray to Allah (swt) to accept those who died as shaheed.

    Also, this again shows why we need to bring back Islamic authority right now.

    • Avatar


      July 12, 2009 at 9:04 AM

      Assalamualykum wa rahmatullhi wa barakatu. I apologize for the lengthy response I was just reading Sheikh Zorbozo’s book on the Purification of the Soul so I thought I’d share what I learned.

      The Prophet (s) said: “The Nations shall soon summon one another to attack you as people when eating invite others to share their dish.” Someone asked, “Will that be because we will be small in numbers at that time?” He (the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessingsof Allah be upon him) replied, “No, you will be numerous but you will be liek the froth on the sea. Allah will remove fear of you from the hearts of our enemies and Allah will cast wahn into your hearts.” A person asked, “What is wahn?” He replied, “Love of the world and hatred of death.” -recorded by Abu Dawood, according to Al Albaani, it is sahih. See Muhammad Naasir al-Deen al -Albani, Saheeh sunan Abi Dawood)

      May Allah give us all the taufique to purify our souls to attain closeness to Him. Sometimes we mistaken things like having an Islamic authority to be the solution to the plight of the Muslim Ummah, but in reality, this is an issue of the purification of the soul, as Allah does not change the state of a nation until we change what is within ourselves. I feel like is the result of our deeds and the condition of our imaan today. How the Muslim Ummah is striving to imitate the West, the love of dunya, and our sins as a whole.

      Sheikh Zorbozo explains that the help of Allah, the kind of help the sahabas were given in the Battle of Badr is achieved through the process of purifying the souls (“Purification of the soul implies a complete reformation of the person, his conception of life, his goals, his aspirations, his deeds, and so forth.)

      Umar (r) said that “Verily Allah helps the Muslims due to the sins of their enemies; if it were not for that we would not be able to overcome them for our numbers are not liek theirs and our power is not like theirs.”

      “The problems faced by the Muslims are the result of the actions that they themselves are performing. Every believer must realize and believe with certainty that victory and support only come from Allah..Muslims will only be living in a situation where the Miuslims and Islam are dominant and where the blood and honor of a Muslim is respected when Allah blesses them with such a situation….Allah does not give victory to the Muslims simply because they carry the name ‘Musim” or “Islam”. And if Allah does not give the Muslims victory, then no one else will ever be able to bring victory to the Muslims…The key to attaining Allahs’ favor and grace in this life and in the Hereafter is in the purification of the soul…The change is such that the entire being and persona changes. The changes are such that it leads to Allah blessing hte Nation with victory and support.”

      -Purification of the soul By Sheikh Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo

      • Avatar

        Umme Ammaarah

        July 13, 2009 at 9:34 AM

        JazakAllahu khairan sister for sharing that with us. Sadly, a lot of times we forget, and veer off the straight path, and freely blame others for our plight without looking into ourselves, for indeed Allah Ta’Ala will not change our state, until we change what is in ourselves. May Allah Arhamur-Raahimeen, Al-Lateef, have mercy on us all, though truly we are not deserving of it.
        Yesterday I saw this bumper sticker on the car in front of mine – ” If your bible is falling apart, chances are that your life is staying together”, and suddenly I felt so queasy that i hadn’t seen a Qur’an that way anywhere, and mine certainly is nowhere close to it, though InshaAllah there must be some of you out there who possess such Qur’ans.

  10. ibnabeeomar


    July 9, 2009 at 10:44 AM

    new feature on MM – click the pictures ;)

    • Avatar


      July 9, 2009 at 10:47 AM

      Now that’s cool.

    • Amad


      July 9, 2009 at 10:49 AM

      very nice!

  11. Avatar


    July 9, 2009 at 11:45 AM

    When will mainstream media pick this up!

    • Avatar


      July 9, 2009 at 12:43 PM

      When they’re done talking about MJ and Steve McNair…Maybe then they’ll put in a minute or two for this. SubhanAllah.

  12. Avatar

    Umm Maryam

    July 9, 2009 at 3:40 PM

    Yah Allah, put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Help the oppressed Muslims all around the world.


  13. Avatar

    Uncle Tom

    July 9, 2009 at 8:54 PM

    To the author:
    Before criticizing CNN and Fox News, maybe you should look at MM, where muslims matters. The conflict started on July 5, but since obviously you guys were so busy trying to find out about michael jackson’s funeral, you only got to this article on July 9.

    amazing how there are < 20 responses on forgotten Muslims…
    but over 200 comments discussing michael jackson's Islam

    Congratulations brothers and sisters !

    • Avatar


      July 10, 2009 at 3:37 PM

      I think the 200 comments on the Michael Jackson article were mostly complaints about having the article itself, rather than discussing.

      Anyway this post has only been on for a day, and the number of people who read these posts is probably more accurate than the number of responses left, allahualim.


  14. Avatar


    July 10, 2009 at 5:50 AM

    So true. Just like the Western politicians ignored the atrocities the Russians committed against the Chechens, they’ll ignore these Uighurs.

    What’s worse is that most Muslims worldover probably don’t even know that Uighurs exist.

    Would people be willing to boycott China to make a stand for their brothers and sisters in their western region?
    Would say, the Arab world be willing to halt oiltrade with China until they stop discriminating the Uighurs?

    Don’t think so…what’s the point of the Organisation of the Islamic conference again???

  15. Avatar


    July 10, 2009 at 8:59 PM

  16. Avatar

    abu hamza

    July 11, 2009 at 9:21 AM

    There is a very detailed history of the uprising against the ching in xingiang to form the islamic sultanate.
    the city of urumqi was one of the cities that rose up

    more details here

  17. Pingback: What if the Uighurs were Christian Rather than Muslim? « Words of love.. words for love…

  18. Avatar

    ibn bukhari

    July 13, 2009 at 8:33 PM


    I have spoke with sh. yasir qadhi about this a few times in our classes. I am from uzbekistan ( hence the user name). The people in xinjiang ( East turkestan), are muslims, of turkic origin, basically the same ancestory as uzbeks, kazakz, turks, etc. They had thier own country in 1933, and again in 1944 for a few years. Then, they were invaded by the communist chinese. Before that era, they were under the general rule of the ottoman empire. Today, the chinese are literally slaughtering uygurs (uy-ghur) by the chinese communist. They dont let young ones attend the masjid, they dont allow them to grow beards, they FORCE them to eat during ramadan, they randomly arrest and murder thousands.
    Many turkish, uzbek and similair muslims are trying to get the word out, but it seems as if the muslims either dont know whats happening, due to chinese propoganda, or they dnot care too much. Anyway, this post was just to inform people as breifly as I could, that these people are sunni muslims who are trying to hold on to the deen as much as they can and being killed for it. Yes, they have thier own nationaists who are fighting for a ”nationalistic” 9 ( i.e haraam) homeland, but most are trying thier best to hold on to what remains of the deen, Which is hard when scholars are killed, young ones cannot travel overseas, etc etc.

    May allah guide all the muslims, help the uygurs in turkistan and everywhere and destroy the enemies of islam and enemies of allah, wherever they may be. AMEEN

  19. Avatar


    July 16, 2009 at 4:09 PM

    Just in case anybody wanted a car bumper sticker on Uyghur or any other language please visit:

    Please write the administrator there if you wanted to add any other language and/or content custom stickers.

  20. Avatar


    August 26, 2009 at 12:47 PM

    I just hope Al Quaeda and Taliban do not creep there. Let Chinese solve whatever be the problem. It is high time to explore our puropse and loyalties. I for one, will care for Uihger suffering, a s a human issue and not as any other thing.

  21. Avatar


    August 29, 2009 at 4:19 PM

    Is there anyway to help the Muslims in China financially?

    If we want to have a fundraiser, what should the aim be in order to help them?

    JazakomAllahu khayran

  22. Avatar


    April 28, 2010 at 7:00 AM

    Look at all the crying muslims here

    Xinjiang has been, is, and always will be a PART OF CHINA. Uighurs need to accept their fate as one of China’s minority or face the consequences. Han immigration into Xinjiang only benefits them, we bring wealth and education, and they have more civil liberties than the Han majority. Therefore, ungrateful citizens who riot and kill other ethnic groups deserve nothing less than strict punishment at the hands of the people and military.

    • Avatar

      another white brother

      April 28, 2010 at 10:07 AM

      Since when has East Turkestan always been a part of China? When it was the Uyghur Khanate? Or the Chagtai Khanate? The Karakhoja? The Kara-Khanid?

      You bring them civil liberties huh? How about the forced closing of masaajid? Suppression of basic Islamic rights such as fasting and Friday prayers? Forced deportation of Uyghur sisters to Eastern China?

      May these citizens gain strength from their “ungratefulness” and may Allah punish you all

      -Edited. Chill on the language a bit pls.

  23. Avatar


    September 14, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    The Western Muslim Magazine wrote about this issue years ago in a comprehensive article that highlighted the roots of the conflict. Unfortunately, the Muslim world is always more concentrated on the Middle East and tends to ignore the plight of so many other Muslims around the world. Another population to that needs to have light shed on it’s plight are the Muslims along the Myanmar/Bangladesh border, who the UN has declared to be facing more oppression than the Palestinians. Thousands of South Asian Muslims are currently being enslaved in the UAE; one of the worst cases of mass slavery since the abolition of slavery being conducted by Muslims themselves.

    • Avatar


      June 13, 2011 at 5:12 AM

      I agree. We protest so much about Palestine, yet its like another Palestine is taking placie in Xinjiang and we are not even much aware of it.

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Africa is a blessed continent with resources and biodiversity that would impress anyone. Africa’s history in Islam (while neglected) played a major role, it was home to the first country to welcome the Muslims and allow them to practice freely. After the spread of Islam trough traders, regions across Africa became hubs for knowledge and trade. The richest man in history hailed from Africa and was Muslim, and his name was Mansa Musa. The riches of Africa have always sought after. People from all over the world have aimed to to do business or exploit the blessed continent. Unfortunately, the history of Africa is filled with strife, bloodshed, slavery, and holocausts. This rings true till today. The purpose of this article is not to dwell on the past, be it Arab influence or colonization. The events going on today needs out attention, we have ignored the struggles of our Muslim brothers and sisters in Africa long enough. 

The first major scramble for Africa was in the 19th century, when Europe carved it up like it was their property. The second was during the cold war, when East and West seek allegiances of newly independent African states. We are witnessing a third scramble that is less obvious, and more behind the scenes with “investments” and “wars”. It can be described as a cold war between China and America. 

African mines

Some see the resources they have like oil, chocolate, rare earth minerals, diamonds, etc. as a blessing (investors mostly), but to the people living through this every day it is a curse. Oil or mineral dependent countries in Africa suffer from enclave industrialization, limited diversity in their economy, and vulnerability to price shock. While this is happening, they see decay in their agriculture, manufacturing, and other trades. The continent is still traumatized by five centuries of exploitation. It is no easy obstacle to overcome. What we are seeing will only get worse as oil production is expected to peak in 2025, world scarcity will increase, and we will see more wars around oil. For the last decade, China has been using “soft power,” basically using money for leverage. This comes in the form of aid, trade, infrastructure projects, and loans. This is a plot to make them a superpower in the region. America, on the other hand, is doing what it has been doing since 1776, it is confronting Africa as a “battlefield,” basically running operations or anti-terrorism projects in dozens of countries that the American public is unaware of. 

One example is South Sudan, and the American campaign to split the Muslim country of Sudan to two. Before the split, China reportedly had invested $20 billion in Sudan. With American interventions occurring, China watched the events unfold. After the split the newly inaugurated president of South Sudan flew to China to secure an $8 billion investment. By 2013, China controlled 40% of their largest crude oil producers and was importing 77% of the country’s output. After unrest and bloodshed occurring in Libya, Mali, Sudan, etc, China has established a stronger effort with peacekeeping officers to protect their oil interest. As one superpower implements one tactic, another superpower follows its traditional method. Last year in Niger, American soldiers, including two commandos, were killed. This was surprising to me as I was unaware of American military operation in Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world with Muslims making 98% of its population.

We have seen a dangerous rise of commandos in Africa. In 2006, under Bush, 1% of deployed commandos were in Africa, by 2011 under Obama it had risen to 3%. It does not stop there, before stepping down from office, in 2016, 16.5% of American commandos deployed were deployed in Africa.

In 2006, only 70 special ops were deployed across the continent, in 2014 we have 700 deployed special ops in Africa. “None of these special operations forces are intended to be engaged in direct combat operations,” said Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Robert S. Karem. Despite this declaration, despite the deaths of soldiers in Niger, U.S. commandos keep finding themselves in situations that are indistinguishable from combat. 

In March of 2018, the New York Times released an article of 10 unreported attacks of American troops between 2015 and 2017. Despite these attacks and distrust towards the region, the Pentagon built a $100 million drone base in Agadez, Niger, regardless of the people’s concerns towards a base being built near their home. Our worldly desires is fueling this new scramble for Africa. Our need for resources, technology, and fuel comes at a cost. This cost manifests itself as the development of the rentier state (eventually developing into a kleptocracy across Africa, professional soldiers ruling the resource-rich lands or an expansion of the “war on terror”. 

Here are a few theoretical solutions, some are to be initiated by the government and some rely on people-power movements. The government needs to reduce corruption and that can be done through a menu of policies created to control and maintain corruption. Controlling corruption can be done through; changing the selections of national agents, modifying the rewards and punishments systems, and restructuring the relations between national agents and users to reduce monopolies. Another venue the government can explore is directly distributing resource revenues to the people. This is practiced in Alaska, and has been wildly successful. Finally, the government can invest the resource revenues in social development. Harnessing the revenues for human development to include education, healthcare, job training, and housing will lift up the urban and rural poor. 

The people can pressure the government to pursue any of those ideas mentioned. A power-people movement can look different depending on the need. One idea is that consumers in the West to boycott African minerals due to corruption and/or exploitation. This can develop into “smart boycotts” where we use internet hedge funds to attack corporations that exploit and feed into corruption. Developing campaigns like “blood diamonds” in the past have been proven effective to generate awareness and bring vital change. The same was done with the ivory, and now even China has laws making the product illegal.

People-power movements work and have helped locals rid of unwanted corporations in their region. Ken Saro-Wiwa, was a leader of the Ogoni people of the Niger Delta, he rallied against the abuses of the Nigerian military regime and the oil pollution created by multi-national companies, which resulted in a change of consciousness for the better. 

In his words: “Whether I live or die is immaterial. It is enough to know that there are people who commit time, money and energy to fight this one evil among so many others predominating worldwide. If they do not succeed today, they will succeed tomorrow.”

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CAA – NRC Row: Why There Is More To It Than An Attack On Secular Ethos

indian economy caa
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‘Indian Muslims have nothing to fear. No one knows what CAA/NRC is all about. They are simply protesting because they are misled’, thus proclaimed a former classmate of mine who himself left India for brighter prospects during PM Narendra Modi’s regime but continues to believe in his promise of ‘acche din’ (good days).

Today the whole of India is divided over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which is to be followed by the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Thousands of students from India’s premier institutions like Jamia Milia Islamia, Jawahar Lal Nehru University, Aligarh Muslim University, Delhi University, IITs and IIMs are thronging the streets to protest against the bigoted law.

The ripple effect has even reached top educational institutions across the world including Harvard, Oxford, Yale and MIT. From lawyers to celebrities to academicians, people across the world, belonging to different religions are raising their dissent against the law which is deemed to be against the secular fabric of the Indian Constitution.

What is this law all about?

The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) provides an accelerated path to Indian citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhists, Jain, Parsi, and Christian religious minorities from three countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is an official record of all those who are legal Indian citizens. So far, such a database has only been created for the northeastern state of Assam which has been struggling with the issue of illegal immigration for a long time. In Assam 1.9 million people were effectively rendered stateless after NRC and were put into detention centers. Out of these 1.9 million, around 0.6 million are Muslim.

On November 20, Home Minister Amit Shah declared during a parliamentary session that the register would be extended to the entire country.

Why the uproar?

At first glance the CAA seems to be a harmless law, which the government claims was made to help those who are facing religious persecution. However, the question arises why only those suffering religious persecution? Millions of people are suffering persecution in the name of race, region or language in India’s neighboring countries.

Even if we talk about just religious persecution, why does the law only accommodate those from three neighboring countries? Rohingyas are suffering brutal persecution in Myanmar. Christians are suffering in Sri Lanka. Tibetans have been persecuted because of their beliefs.

Many people opine that the CAA is not problematic in itself. It becomes problematic when it’s seen in conjunction with NRC. When NRC is implemented, millions of people will be declared illegal due to lack of documents in a country where the masses live in villages and documentation is a complicated bureaucratic process with a high error rate. According Professor Shruti Rajagopalan, the State Of Aadhaar Report 2017-18 by IDinsight, covering 2,947 households, found that 8.8% of Aadhaar holders reported errors in their name, age, address or other information in their Aadhaar letter (Aadhaar is the identity number issued to Indian residents). In the NRC, a spelling mistake can deprive one of citizenship and 8.8% affects over 120 million people.

They will be rendered stateless and sent to detention centers with inhumane conditions. Out of these ‘illegals’, everyone but Muslims can seek accelerated citizenship under CAA.

The fact is that even if we view CAA alone, the very act of offering citizenship on the basis of religion goes against the fundamentals of secularism and equality as mentioned in the Indian constitution.

UN Human Rights chief, Michelle Bachelet has termed the CAA as “fundamentally discriminatory”.

In this context, it’s also relevant to understand the revolt that is happening in the north eastern state of Assam. While the rest of India is against CAA and NRC for exclusion of Muslims, the people of Assam are protesting against the inclusion of 1.3 million undocumented Non-Muslims, as identified in the NCR. According to them, if these foreigners are granted citizenship under CAA, they pose a threat to the language and culture of Assam.

Police brutality against protesters

Student fraternity across the world was shocked when students of Jamia Milia Islamia who were peacefully protesting against the CAA were brutally attacked by police forces. Police accused students of destroying public property and fired tear gas shells, beat them up mercilessly and even open fired at them. They barged into the library, mosque and even the women’s hostels without authorization.

Video footage shot by students and reviewed by Reuters show students, including women, hiding beneath desks in the library, cowering in restrooms, jumping over broken furniture in an attempt to flee. It was later verified that none of the students had anything to do with some of the buses that were set ablaze outside the campus.

Reports of even more horrific police brutality surfaced from Aligarh Muslim University. A student’s hand had to be amputated after a tear gas shell hit him and exploded. Hundreds of students were severely injured.

Section 144 of the Criminal Code which prohibits any gathering of 5 or more people has been imposed across the entire state of UP. Internet has been shut down in several parts.

Videos showing police destroying properties of innocent Muslims in UP have surfaced which the ‘Godi media’, a term coined for PM Modi’s lapdog media, refuses to acknowledge. Innocent youth are being dragged out of their homes and their properties are being seized on the accusation of destruction of public property. Death toll has crossed 22. Thousands are in custody.

It’s not surprising that Narendra Modi is being compared to Adolf Hitler.

India’s secular ethos

Religion based politics is nothing new in India, the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi issue and Gujarat riots being two of the most glaring examples.

However, in day to day life ‘Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai, Aapas mein sab bhai bhai’ (Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians are all brothers) has not just been a slogan but a way of life.

Muslims in India have held prominent positions in every sphere of life, be it arts, literature, sports or leadership and have been admired by Hindus and Muslims alike.

The current BJP government aims to change all of that with its RSS-inspired fascist ideology of Hindutva – Hindu nationalism andHindu rashtra’ (nation).

India’s faltering economy and dejected youth

One of the heartening aspects of the CAA/NRC uprising is that it is not being seen as just a Muslim struggle. It is rightly being seen as a struggle to uphold the secular ethos of the Constitution of India. However, there is more to this struggle which is being led by the youth of the country.

Underlying the CAA-NRC struggles is the country’s deep disappointment with PM Modi’s lofty promises of ‘acche din’ (good days) which gave the country a new hope . Among other things he promised to make India an economic superpower. Today the nation’s economy is in doldrums which has led to frustration and dejection in the youth.

IMF’s last forecast for India was 6.1% growth in 2019. This has slumped to 4.9%. Unemployment is at a 45-year high and industrial growth rate is negative.

One of the major reasons for the economic slowdown has been the government’s radical decision of demonetization in 2016 which sent the entire country in a turmoil and failed to achieve any of its stated objectives. Small businesses took a further hit with the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

At a time when the government’s primary concern should have been the faltering economy, the government diverted the country’s attention to the Babri Masjid -Ram Janmabhoomi issue. As soon as that ended it announced the CAA and NRC, continuing its propaganda of Hindu nationalism as opposed to real issues faced by the nation.

At this critical junction the economy can be expected to take a further hit by the cost of the implementation of the CAA and NRC exercise.By conservative estimates, nationwide NRC will cost Indians a whopping 500 billion rupees in admin expenses alone. Add to it the massive cost of building and maintaining detention centers across the country and the nation looks set for an economic and logistical nightmare.

Today the educated youth of the country is voicing its frustration at the price the country has been paying due to the government’s fascist ideologies. They no longer want the world to know India for its age old mandir-masjid disputes, mob lynchings, communal riots, human rights violations, poverty or illiteracy.

The current uprising is not just against one particular law.The people, especially the youth of India are protesting for their rights to work together as one nation to take the country towards being an exemplary democracy and an economic superpower.

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What Indian Students Are Saying about the CAA NRC Project – And Its Implementation

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The Modi government has been trying to paint the Citizenship Amendment Bill (now Citizenship Amendment Act- CAA) as a humanitarian gesture for religious minorities from three select countries, and Home Minister Amit Shah had claimed in Parliament that no Muslim Indian needs to fear the CAB or the proposed National Register of Citizens, before the Bill had received the President’s nod to become a law on December 12.

But the students I spoke with are far from convinced, especially after the horrific incidents that unfolded at the Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi and the Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh.


Mohammad Amir, a former management student at AMU fears that if the Citizenship Act remains a law, it could set a precedent for religious bias in any future policy or legislation.

“Whether AMU or Jamia, protestors are viewing the CAA through the lens of the National Register of Citizens. There is a prevailing threat that our citizenship will be snatched away just because we follow a certain religion,” said Amir.

Iqra Raza, a student of literature at St Stephen’s College believes that Muslims have already become a target. Raza says she was attacked by a few ABVP goons on her way back from an anti-CAA protest in the North Campus of Delhi University.

“I was targeted for my hijab, cornered and beaten up. I was outnumbered seven to one and there was nothing I could have done. This was within 100 metres of police deployment, and even the university guards simply looked on as I cried and shouted for help,” she recalls, adding that the incident has traumatised her severely.

Raza shared that a second-year DU undergraduate wearing a hijab was also attacked on the very same day. Just days before, Prime Minister Modi while campaigning made a very obvious dog whistle remark targeting Muslims, saying that those creating violence could be identified “by what they were wearing”.

The CAA discriminates by granting expedited citizenship on the basis of religion, and by leaving out one religion in the list of other six, its true intent may indeed be to perpetuate the exclusion of Muslims from the citizenry.

Many of those I spoke to pointed out that the CAA does not mention the word “persecuted” or “persecution” anywhere in its text. This could mean that Shah’s talk of giving new hope to those allegedly facing religious persecution is just an eyewash.

“Due to the new CAA wording, a Muslim, someone who was previously considered a citizen of India could end up as a non-citizen,” says Hena Zuberi, editor-in-chief of and head of the Washington DC office of the human rights organisation, Justice for All.

“While the Modi government claims that this is not the intent of the Act, the loophole is visibly large, and there is ample reason to believe that the path it provides for re-citizenship was the reason it was passed by Parliament,” Zuberi further said.

After huge protests in the northeast states by people opposing the new law for separate reasons, a number of students at universities elsewhere in India came out in protest, demanding that the government withdraw the Act completely.

Students at Jamia Millia Islamia were among the first to raise their voice. When they organised a protest march from their campus to Parliament House on December 13, they were stopped by police barricades. 

According to the testimony of a student who wishes to remain anonymous, the police threatened them saying that they should protest quietly in their homes, for the streets do not belong to them to do such things.

“They first started throwing mud or chappals or bottles at us that they had picked up from the road, and then they started pelting stones,” the student recounts. Those who tried to resist the police and break through the barricades were detained. The police also fired teargas shells that day, injuring about 30-40 people, according to his testimony.

Again on December 15, when students were protesting peacefully on the Jamia campus lawns, the police opened fire according to witnesses and assaulted any student they came across, regardless of whether or not they were a part of the protest.

“They went completely berserk once they broke the gates and came inside the campus,” says Alhayyat Pasha, a journalism student at Jamia, sharing what he described as one of the most terrible experiences of his life.

“I was just studying by myself in the library reading hall when the police started coming in numbers. I don’t think I have ever been so scared, I was just constantly shaking,” he said.

While the students took shelter in the library and bolted the doors, the police constantly fired inside and threw teargas shells. This shattered the glasses on the doors and windows, through which the students managed to escape, although some were dragged and beaten up, with their phones being taken away.

“I was lucky enough to have escaped, as I went straight to the gates before the police started rounding up the others,” says Pasha. 

A research scholar in sociology at Jamia said on condition of anonymity that what the Delhi Police did was a complete violation of human rights, and illegal also because they are not allowed to enter the campus without permission, nor without female cops being present.

An Assamese by birth, she says she was deeply affected by the CAA, although the NRC is acceptable to her. She explains that most people in Assam are against the CAA for reasons different from the exclusion of Muslims as is the case elsewhere in the country. 

“The NRC, which could have brought an end to the problem of illegal immigrants and border issues plaguing the state for long, will be completely nullified if the CAA comes into action,” she said.

The researcher confessed that she wasn’t very involved in the protests led by Jamia students in any way because she did not agree with their reasons. 

“But then the course of horrific incidents that took place left a spine chilling disturbance, and I was forced to change my mind”, she alleged.

But Shamik Banerjee, a Master’s student of media governance, feels that condemning the police assault will not make any difference, and similar incidents are very likely to occur in the future.

“Delhi Police has already set a precedent when it comes to dealing with student protests, and since this is a university with a Muslim name we don’t really expect anything better from them,” Banerjee said. He added that he is an upper-caste Hindu who was never made conscious of his religion as a student in a Muslim-majority campus space in all the time he has been there.

indian students

A protest at the Aligarh Muslim University against the Citizenship Amendment Act on December 13, 2019.. | Photo Credit: Manoj Aligadhi


Meanwhile, similar horrors were unfolding at the Aligarh Muslim University as well. It began with a mass hunger strike against the CAA and NRC on December 12, following the passage of the Bill. On 13th, more students joined in and gathered at the Bab-e-Syed masjid to protest against the police brutality in Jamia. The police then filed an FIR against 700 students for allegedly violating Section 144, although students later claimed that Section 144 hadn’t been imposed in the area at the time. 

The government deployed the Rapid Action Force at the university entrance gates and in the early hours of dawn suspended the internet in the area.

“It was like any other normal day, until we received a message that the gate has been broken and students are being choked with teargas” said a student who wished to remain anonymous. “Aligarh had become a battleground. People were being thrashed inside the campus, teargas and stun grenades were being thrown at the students, and bikes were being smashed.”

The student said that the Rapid Action Force entered the campus and set Room 46 of the Morrison Court on fire. The students were locked inside their own residential halls and washrooms.

A law student at AMU stated that that it takes five years of blood and sweat to complete a law degree, understand a single section or amendments, and a whole lifetime to fight for and practise the same. 

“A law that makes students evacuate prestigious institutions whose admission tests take months of preparation to crack cannot be implemented or accepted,” she said, adding that she still harbours a hope that the Supreme Court will scrap the Act.

“This is exactly what the government wants, and it is extremely saddening,” said Zeeshan Abdullah Shaikh, a student of medicine at AMU. “They will not let us study, and by making us evacuate our hostels they’re already making us feel like refugees running for our lives.”

“The way they came at us, in both Jamia and Aligarh, it was like they had no regard for our lives, neither as students nor as Muslims,” another student alleged. “There have been student protests and demonstrations in other universities a lot of times, but never has there been open firing and assault to this degree. It’s clear that our Muslim names are a marker.”

Michael Kugelman is the Deputy Director of the Asia Program (specialising in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India and their relations with the US) at the Wilson Center in DC, which is a non-partisan policy forum that tackles global issues through independent research and open dialogue. According to him, universities in many places and not just in India can be a hotbed of activism as it encourages different and individualistic thoughts. 

This is also why universities with large Muslim student populations will be particularly concerning to the government, based on the assumption that those students would be particularly inclined to protest and oppose the law. They would try to suppress any opposition in such cases, even if they have been largely non-violent”, he said over a short interview.

However, according to Kugelman, the Indian Muslims do happen to have a surprising ally in the cause after all: the far-right Indian Hindus that oppose the citizenship law. 

He believes as the BJP does not want to alienate Indian Hindus, it could very well prove to be completely adverse to their exclusionary policy if they’re seen protesting with the Indian Muslims on a large scale.

“That show of unity could just be the very powerful thing that unsettles the ruling party in a big way”, he said. 

CAA Protest

Speaking from the Justice for All office in Washington, DC, Zuberi also concurred with this. She said that the government wants the Muslim youth to be crushed so that no resistance takes root, and in this process, to intimidate non-Muslim youth in the hope that they will eventually drop out of the protests, thinking it doesn’t affect them in any way.

Zuberi also mentioned her fear that if students from other religious communities were to stop taking part in the protests, Muslim students might be detained indefinitely under laws like the anti-sedition law – which governments in India have often used to detain or jail people opposed to their policies. 

Mohammad Assaduzzaman, who is currently pursuing a masters in material chemistry and mineralogy at the University of Bremen, said he would feel very scared to return to India in light of all that is happening, although he added that the huge number of non-Muslims taking part in the protests has given him a lot of hope.

Yet he too expressed a similar fear: what might happen if people from other religions stop lending support to the community after a point?

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