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Uyghur Muslims – Turmoil in China

*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]

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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.

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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 ibnabeeomar.com.

32 Comments

32 Comments

  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

    Amatullah

    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

      sister

      July 12, 2009 at 8:38 AM

      wa tarjoona minAllahi ma la yarjoon…

  5. Avatar

    Sadaf

    July 9, 2009 at 2:25 AM

    Bismillah

    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

    Lnahrawi

    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 | MuslimMatters.org « euraktiva

  8. Avatar

    zacharia

    July 9, 2009 at 7:06 AM

    check out this solid article on salon.com:

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/07/06/uighurs/index.html

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

  9. Avatar

    ilmQuest

    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

      sister

      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

    ibnabeeomar

    July 9, 2009 at 10:44 AM

    new feature on MM – click the pictures ;)

    • Avatar

      ilmQuest

      July 9, 2009 at 10:47 AM

      Now that’s cool.

    • Amad

      Amad

      July 9, 2009 at 10:49 AM

      very nice!

  11. Avatar

    MR

    July 9, 2009 at 11:45 AM

    When will mainstream media pick this up!

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      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.

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/205830

    Assalamualykum.

  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

      Habeeb

      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.

      Habeeb

  14. Avatar

    Xeno

    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

    Amber

    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
    http://muslimwiki.com/mw/index.php/Urumqi
    http://muslimwiki.com/mw/index.php/Xinjiang_Sultanate

  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

    assalamualuykum,

    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

    vladimir

    July 16, 2009 at 4:09 PM

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

    http://LandsAndPeople.com/en/uyghurs

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

  20. Avatar

    lMirza

    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

    Hamza

    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

    xiaobao

    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

    Mirza

    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

      Musa

      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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#Current Affairs

In The Name of God: A Communal Rupture Sowed By Communal Legacy

At one point of time, there used to be a mosque in Ayodhya. It stood tall and lofty for 470 long years, until a mob of extremist Hindu fanatics came at it with axes and pickets and razed it to the ground. Stemming from the popular belief that it was the birthplace of the mythological figure of the warrior Hindu god called Ram, the act was carried out for the future construction of a temple devoted to him, and one that had to be erected at the same spot where the 16th century mosque had existed for so long. 

“All we need for the betterment of life is Lord Ram, and there is no survival without Lord Ram”.

The supporters of the Ram Janmabhoomi cause kept reiterating this loud and clear in Anand Patwardhan’s documentary film Ram ke Naam (In The Name of God), that still serves as the single-most myth busting source centred round the whole dispute. But this very claim itself is based on partial accounts that stem from loose historicity, as depicted in the footage.

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On December 22 1949, Lord Ram was said to have appeared in the dream of a priest in Ayodhya, who along with a few other men installed an idol of the god inside the mosque in the dead of night. The film tracked down one of the priests who had participated in the plan, and identified him as Mahant Ramsevak Das Shastri. He claimed that the erstwhile district magistrate K.K. Nayar was also an organiser of this act and had ensured that Shastri and the others accused were released on bail. Although generally identified as the first breach of communal trust that gradually gave rise to the whole dispute, in truth, this religious fundamentalism has its roots running deeper than most of us fully grasp or acknowledge. 

Even at present, about a dozen places in India and Nepal claim to be the potential birthplace of Ram and there is no consensus among Hindu scholars and historians regarding the same. Ayodhya has been housing many Ram temples since the 19th century, and incidentally, quite a lot of them had claimed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram at one point of time or the other. After the construction of the Babri Masjid in 1528 by the Mughal emperor Babur, historic records show that the first instance of communal riots in the area was not before 1855. Sunni Muslims clashed with Bairai Hindus in the area claiming that the temple of Hanumangarhi (for the Hindu mythological figure Lord Hanuman) was built where once stood an already demolished mosque. Nawab Wajid Ali, the then ruler of Ayodhya promptly intervened and made peace, but not before the incident caught the attention of the colonial overlords. This took place just two years prior to the Great Revolt of 1857. It was the first known pan-Indian unified struggle for independence, and one that was founded upon the Hindu-Muslim unity which had been turning into a growing threat for the ruling East India Company. And of all the temples claiming to be the holy birthplace of Lord Ram, the British chose a mosque having Mughal origins to be the designated one for spreading the rumour that Babur had constructed it after destroying what was once a temple housing Lord Ram’s original birthplace. 

As this notion started gaining momentum, the British installed a fence on the premise, which led to an arrangement that had the Muslims praying inside the inner court and the Hindus being allowed to use the outer courtyard. This communal understanding and secular practice went on and in peace till 1949, until the breach orchestrated by Nayar occurred. 

The 1949 breach then led to communal rifts, which was followed by the mosque being sealed. This marked the beginning of how those in power have been manipulating the masses for centuries, either for ensuring a vote bank, or being mostly fueled by a blind sense of religious fanaticism that made them feel empowered over other religions. 

Repeated petitions were filed to open the locks and allow namaz inside the mosque. While the inner court was kept out of bounds, puja was allowed to be carried out in the outer courtyard. As many as four suits were filed between 1950 and 1961 asking for the restoration of the Muslims’ right to pray, none of which were heeded. Twenty years later, the Sunni Waqf Board finally filed a suit for complete possession of the site, and the one which turned out to be the final blow. Hindu groups in turn formed a committee to protect their rights, and the plan to construct the Ram temple was spearheaded, causing the Ram Janmabhoomi movement gaining momentum like never before, with erstwhile Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P.) member L. K. Advani giving leadership to the same. 

It was no less than a “political game”, according to the court appointed priest Laldas, who was charged with tending to the Ram idol after the mosque was sealed. During his tenure from 1983 to 1992, he was known to have been critically vocal against the whole Ram Janmabhoomi movement and the premeditated conspiracy that was growing around Babri at that time. He was removed from service 9 months prior to the demolition act and was found to be shot dead a year later under mysterious circumstances. 

“BJP does not believe in Ram, only in hatred…the Hindu Parishad members have never made a single offering or prayed at the temple even once,” he had told Patwardhan during an interview clip in the documentary. 

Surprisingly, none of the subjects that Patwardhan approached in the film knew exactly when Lord Ram was born, or at least even in which century. Not the poor tanner squatting on the ground, not the first year law student brandishing a sword before the march to Ayodhya and not even the saffron clad priest inside the air conditioned Toyota van. But all of them were unwaveringly certain in their belief that Ram’s birthplace was none other than Babri, and how it has been a known fact for many years. 

It was December 6, 1992 that witnessed the right wing mobilisation movement carry out the act of political vandalism quite unparalleled in the modern world, leading to subsequent communal riots, and a massacre which the country has not completely recovered from since. Babri was destroyed. 

Twenty seven years, varying heartbeats, deadly communal violence acts and the loss of about 5,000 odd lives later, the landmark justice on the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute was delivered. 9th November 2019 was a date that meant too much to too many people. It was a day that either meant the end to so many years of rioting, divisibility and cut-throat communalism, or a further tint in the already widening secular fabric of the nation. 

2019 was also the year that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in for a second term and had implemented a number of administrative decisions that gave BJP’s Hindu supremacist ideology a new momentum and utmost urgency. One of the first things that he did after taking office was revoke the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution on August 5, 2019, which had so far granted the internationally disputed Muslim dominated region of Kashmir a special status independent of Indian jurisdiction. The abrogation allowed Kashmir to be reinvaded by a strong Indian military, annexed to the Indian subcontinent and put under complete curfew with an internet blackout. And exactly one year later, Prime Minister Modi is about to lay the foundation stone for the newly constructed Ram temple in Ayodhya on the site of the demolished mosque on August 5, 2020, as thanks to the landmark verdict on the decades-spanning historic wound that has completely redefined the politics of the country, the forces responsible for the demolition had found themselves in complete legal possession of the land. 

For many blinded by irrational faith and hyper nationalism, the judgement reinstated the inherent vice of fanatic Hindutva ideology in the sense that their religion is all superior, and one that fuels the necessity to construct the Ram temple at the very spot of the Babri Masjid. But to others still believing in the idea of the independent India that awoke at the stroke of the midnight hour on 15th August 1947, the judgement could have very well been a bigger, and more dangerous rupture in the democratic and secular pillars of the country than the actual act of the demolition itself. 

The current chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, who was charged with overseeing the construction of the temple had gone on record as early as 2017 during a pre-election campaign to promise a Ram Mandir

Agar Samajwadi Party jeetegi to Karbala-kabristan banega, jabki Bhajapa ki Sarkar banegi toh Ayodhya mein Ram mandir banega.

30 years ago it was L.K. Advani who had promised that Mandir wahi Banega and today, it is Yogi Adityanath, the third face in line on the saffron political firmament, who is delivering on this promise.

Vikas Pathak, who is a professor at the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai, said that this is Hindutva’s true and unalloyed form, one that was supposedly hidden beneath layers of political exigencies for so many years leading up to this. This claim is further supported by an independent multimedia journalist in Kashmir, who said he feels the same due to the obvious choice of the date of inauguration. Requesting to be anonymous, he expressed his thoughts on how this is more of a planned move than a mere coincidence, and one which gives out a clear message.

The fact that it’s happening on the anniversary of the repeal of Kashmir’s autonomy, accentuates the importance that the Modi government places on its aggressive pursuit of a Hindu nationalist agenda”, also augmented Michael Kugelman in his comment on the matter. He is senior associate of the Wilson Center and the deputy director of its Asia Program. 

Just like Jai Shree Ram, this Mandir agenda too had been normalised into one which sounded like a clarion call for battle. In Patwardhan’s film, an unnamed Congress politician held a campaign where he asked the Vishwa Hindu Parishad that if indeed a Ram temple should be built, why could it not be anywhere else in the city, as Ayodhya is such a large place. 

“I am amazed at this stubbornness that they will build the temple at the very same spot! And that too, only after destroying the mosque… He (Advani) can easily build a temple anywhere in Ayodhya, but please do not insist that this can only be possible by demolishing an existing mosque. I want to promise that the temple will most definitely be built, but the mosque must also remain.”

As we went on to see in the film, and even twenty seven years down the line, it was firmly decided that Mandir wahi banega, and one existing holy site was destroyed to give rise to another. Come November 2019,  the temple plan gets sanctioned by the Supreme Court of India as well, ironically granting the Sunni Waqf board an alternate piece of land to construct their mosque instead.

While the 5-judge bench lay claim to the demolishing act accepting it as a crime, and while they also accepted that the installation of the idols inside the mosque was an act of desecration, it also gave the land over to those who desecrated it at the same time. A judge on the bench had called it “one of the most important cases in the world,” but when the perpetrators of what the Supreme Court has openly identified as a crime find themselves to be the main beneficiaries of the judgement, it brings to question how just the verdict actually is.

Quite bizarrely, the court had declared that while there was some evidence of Hindus worshipping on the disputed site, no such documentary evidence could be found in the case of Muslims until before 1857. 

“The mosque was built in 1528, and the area was under Mughal occupation till 1722. Then it was ruled by Nawabs, and finally annexed by the British in 1856. It must be self-evident that during this entire period of being under Muslim rule, Muslims were offering namaz inside the mosque and not the other way round”, said a Kashmiri student currently studying at Jadavpur University in Kolkata on the condition of anonymity, adding how such a reasoning based on “balance of probabilities” as one of the reasons to give it to the Hindu side is itself one of inequality. 

On the other hand, the judgement also referred to a 574 pages long report published by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) 15 years ago, which claimed that Babri Masjid was not built on vacant land. Reading the unanimous judgement and considering the report valid on the assurance of being scientifically tested, Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi who was leading the bench said: 

“There was a structure underlying the disputed structure. The underlying structure was not an Islamic structure.”

While the court relied heavily on this ASI report, independent archaeologists who observed the site on behalf of the Sunni Waqf board differed entirely with the ASI findings. While the six month long court ordered investigation did reveal the existence of an underlying structure beneath the mosque, eminent archaeologists Supriya Varma and Jaya Menon believe that the evidence collected on their part do not support the claims made by ASI. 

Their report read: “underneath the Babri, there existed older mosques.” 

They further added that even if the underlying structures were not of Islamic origin, they closely resembled Buddhist stupas at the most, and in no way anything remotely close to a Hindu temple. This particular claim is in turn also supported by the archaeological surveyor Alexander Cunningham, who was the first individual to survey Ayodhya (around 1862-63), and was known for his interest in tracking down and identifying places associated with Buddhism.

Had India as a country boasted of a very robust and strong judicial institution, such an incident would not have been dragged all the way from 1949 to 2019, let alone pave the way to constructing a temple on the disputed land. December 6, 1992 should have been permanently brought an end to it with strict actions being taken against the perpetrators. While the B.J.P. indeed is directly linked to the whole incident, the Congress government led by Rajiv Gandhi allowed the locks to be opened in the 1980s. Following the demolition, the Congress Prime Minister Narsimha Rao allowed them to get away with the violence in 1992. And in 2019, the Supreme Court judges have done the same. 

Ayodhya, for more than a quarter of a century, had been turned into a place of cynical and political revanchism. And thrust between this politics of a loosely manufactured historicity aiming to upend the Republic of secularism by replacing it with a system running on Hindutva ideology, were those that represented what India truly stands for. Of the numerous subjects that Patwardhan interviewed, both Hindus and Muslims, most of them unanimously awaited, and wanted peace. Something that was so easy to understand for someone who lived a simple life of an ironmonger, belonging to the low Bishkarma caste, was at the same time completely unimaginable to those amassing trucks and weapons to demolish the mosque:

“Once it exists, it is wrong to break. If someone tried to break our temple, would we allow it? We’d say go build your mosque elsewhere.”

Zahir Adil, the lead on Save India From Fascism Project of the human rights organization Justice For All also expressed a similar sentiment, saying how he would have actually welcomed it if the temple was not built after illegally destroying a historic mosque. 

“Apart from being a day that RSS criminals are rewarded with a new temple after perpetuating systemic violence in India, 5th August 2020 also goes down in history as the day that the words Jai Shree Ram will be displayed in the iconic Times Square as the Prime Minister will lay the foundation stone for a Ram Temple on the site of the demolished mosque”, informed Masood Rab, spokesperson of Coalition of Americans for Pluralism in India (CAPI). It is one among the coalition of organizations that  have refused to carry forward the programming by the pro-Modi group in Times Square. 

The RSS, or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, being the parent organization of the current ruling party in India has its roots in pre-Independence times and were also known for openly supporting Hitler’s Nazi agenda. They were banned as many as four times when India was ruled by the national Congress, but it has now become the de-facto power under BJP rule, with Modi himself being a known RSS member. 

Indian American Muslim leaders, as well as human rights organizations, having categorically denounced this display of religious bigotry has called for a day long protest in the iconic Times Square from 8 AM, asking for this display of vehement arrogance to be stopped. Those like Adil and Dr. Shaik Ubaid (President of the Indian Minorities Advocacy Network) have also expressed concern on how the proponents of this fascist ideology have become so confident that they are celebrating an illegal and bloody act in the middle of Times Square, and for the entire world to see. But others like Kugelman expect, and have pointed out that while there will be messages in Times Square blaring out communal rhetoric, there may also be messages expressing solidarity for Kashmiris.

“It is perhaps fitting, in this globalized era, if the incredibly polarizing Kashmir issue plays out under the bright lights of Times Square”, said Kugelman over a brief electronic conversation, but added how this juxtaposition is also extremely divisive within the country on the whole.

The mandatory in this case seems more like a political campaign trick than anything to do with actual Hinduism, and essentially a symbiotic Displace perpetrated by a fascist government.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that this could be the rise of divisive Hindu supremacy as never seen before. In all its entirety, the day of August 5, 2020 marks the end of an era and the possible beginning of a new one. It detriments the idea that our founding forefathers had envisioned for the nation, and while we may not like it at the same time, this is essentially a new India that is emerging for everyone to see – one that is a land of strident Hindutva and religious dissonance at the forefront. 

LINK to the documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMT18TMNQbY

 

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#Current Affairs

The Perennial Siege: Kashmir’s Tense Lockdown Anniversary

A year after the revocation of Article 370—special status of the valley, Kashmir continues to be under security lockdown, intermittent internet restrictions, almost negligible functioning of education system, amid reports of continuous detentions and across-the-board human rights violations.

Two-day curfew has been imposed in Indian-administered Kashmir in anticipation of containing any form of dissent ahead of the 5 August anniversary—the day Indian government stripped Kashmir of its special status. Officials say the curfew is meant to prevent violence by groups planning to observe 5 August as “black day”.

On August 5 2019, the state was split into two federally administered regions and its semi-autonomous status was revoked. The decision to revoke article 370—part of Indian constitution that guaranteed Kashmir special status—an action with potentially devastating consequences for Kashmiri identity and community was met with anger and feeling of betrayal in the region although it was widely welcomed in the rest of the country. In preparation for this, it put Kashmir into a complete lockdown at midnight on Aug. 4, 2019. Eight million Kashmiris were restricted in their homes. In-an-effort to impose a complete communication blockade, internet connections were cut, and phone connections were terminated.

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Everything seems to have come to a halt, and the past experiences have begun to conjure the images of unprecedented violence. Since the revocation or illegal annexation of Kashmir on August 5, the betrayed and besieged population, including me, treated like a prisoner in a forsaken paradise on earth, continue to mourn India’s deceptively organized virulent manifestation of democracy. The fact-finding report, Women’s Voice, counters the state narrative of “return to normalcy,” indicating that 13,000 boys and young men were detained illegally after August 5, including some as young as 14, with some imprisoned for up to 45 days, and with families paying as much as 60,000 rupees ($850) for their release

Kashmiris, however, saw their integration as a threat to the state’s ethnic character, and a milestone on the road to the realization of the BJP’s dream of a fundamentally Hindu nation. Many legal commentators decried the Indian government’s unilateral abrogation as “illegal,” calling it an “unconstitutional deed,” which was “accomplished by deceitful means” (Noorani 2019). 

The Problem oF Kashmir

A brief context of the conflict offers a perspective to understand the problem of Kashmir. “The world is reaping the chaos the British Empire sowed,” Amy Hawkins wrote in Foreign Policy, and “local populace is still paying for the mess the British left behind in Hong Kong and Kashmir.” The anti-colonial uprisings in the Indian subcontinent, China, the Arab world and elsewhere did not result in freedom or democracy for the nations ruled by the British Empire”. In Kashmir, the British left a bleeding wound amid the partition of colonial India. Kashmir in post-partition and to be more succinct, post-1947 emerged as a boiling pot from the cultivation uterus of the two-nation theory.

Since then, Kashmir is known to be the most heavily militarized zones in the world. More than 7 million soldiers have been deployed, as per the reports, to counter what the Indian army itself claims as “cross-border terrorism”. This myth has been busted time and again because of the actions of the Indian government in the last three decades. If there were any doubts earlier, they should have cleared by now. Their real enemy is the Kashmiri people, especially “Kashmiri Muslims”, the hindrance in the way of turning India into a “Hindutva nation” claims Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in 2019 U.N. general assembly speech.

India’s decision to abolish the state’s nominal autonomy last year is the most far-reaching move in the region in the last 70 years and has been pushed by the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) as a development-focused action to “mainstream” the only Muslim-majority state in the subcontinent. While the government —which justified the shutdown as “preventive” — and the leading Indian media outlets are propagating an image of the region as slowly returning to “normalcy”, the reality on the ground, as documented by the New York Times, is very different. 

Kashmir continues to simmer under the siege.

Post 5—August SiegeAnd  Defiance

This season’s siege is more crushing than ever, possibly the worst since the first one nearly 30 years ago, a stratagem designed carefully to humiliate an entire population. There is also an unwavering manifestation of defiance, as by now the Kashmir street is sufficiently educated politically to not pin its hopes on an infusion of benevolence in the government’s Kashmir policy or any practical outcome from the partial solidarity from the international community. The mass arrests, in thousands, including minors and pellet victims [including a cancer patient] holding 7 million populations under eight hundred thousand jackboots has unveiled the façade of Indian democracy. 

“No government in the world has blocked Internet access as frequently as India. An incredible 213 times in just three years”, reports Time Magazine, “which is far more than Syria, Iran, Turkey, and Egypt together”. And more than half of those shutdowns have been enforced on Kashmir—is that because, questions Abid (PhD scholar, Dept. of political science department, Kashmir University) “of the special (autonomous) status Kashmir “enjoyed” in the larger Indian union? Will they also ban clean air, now that the special status has been erased?” 

Picking out promising adolescents; sometimes old men and even women, they branded them, as with batons and red-hot irons, to forcefully teach them how to behave. Abid Khan, 28, and Idrees, 29 from Shopian district in South Kashmir were raided in the middle of the night, tortured for hours by dozens of army men. Khan says he was dragged out and blindfolded along with his brother, who has learning difficulties, on August 14. “They gave electric shocks to my brother on the road outside our home. I heard him scream painfully,” quoted in AFP story, showing marks on his arms, legs and buttocks. Khan said. “Then they gave me electric shocks again on my genitals and wounds. One of them said ‘I will make you impotent’.” On September 13, Irshad Ahmed, a 12-year-old boy from neighboring Buchpora, Srinagar, suffered a serious head injury. His hospital registration card noted that it was a ‘fire-arm injury’, adding the word “alleged”. Those accompanying him said he had been hit by a cluster of pellets in his head. The bar has been raised so high for all forms of political dissent, and the detentions, numbering in thousands have choked any form of political activity on the ground. What remains still is an unwavering manifestation of the overarching defiance against the government-enforced execution of oppression. 

Pandemic Lockdown- In and Out of Kashmir

Since the world has now entered the sixth month of Covid-19 restrictions. With self-isolation, physical-distancing and e-learning online education, for most populations the robust internet and phone service has still provided a lifeline to let them work and be engaged and entertained. But in the Himalayan territory of Kashmir, the repression and militaristic method in the latest indignity in a 73-year cycle of oppression, militarization and scarcity especially since last year August in Kashmir has intensified: communications were completely cut in August 2019 and were only beginning, even after weeks pandemic broke out. Since March, only 2G is available, and only sporadically. As Waheed Mirza, novelist and political commentator on Kashmir asserts “A military siege is like a chokehold on an entire people”.  

For the world, asserts Arundhati Roy:

“Kashmir and Kashmiris signify as a prototype to learn the craft of surviving under a lockdown. For the former, it is a self-imposed precautionary measure experienced for the first time in the recent history by the world to fight against an unseen disease; as for the latter, it is the endless fight against the continuation of a seven month long enforced siege against their will.”

 This reality soon turned into a buzzword “the world is turning into Kashmir”. Azad Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan asserted India has been using the “cover of the coronavirus” to “mow down” Kashmiri youth and change the Muslim-majority character of the disputed region.  

According to news reports on Kashmir, anyone who violates curfew–even those with valid passes allowing them to leave their homes–risks being detained by soldiers or police and possibly beaten. Even doctors, who’ve been celebrated as heroes elsewhere in the world, report being harassed on their way to work in Kashmir, which already suffers an acute lack of medical resources and staff. Limited access to information has also obstructed Kashmir’s coronavirus fight. The region uses 2G internet, an online connection so slow that it is nonexistent elsewhere in the world. Indian authorities have cut online access in Kashmir 55 times since it was restored in March 2020. According to the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies, a local group that documents and litigates human rights abuses “this has delayed doctors’ ability to read emerging treatment guidelines and new research on the disease”.

For some, the repressive methods allude to the fact that the Indian government’s priorities in Kashmir have not been changed by the pandemic. “Any administration that is willing to impose the longest Internet shutdown in history only believes in the right of censorship and surveillance,” says Mishi Choudhary, the legal director at the Software Freedom Law Center, a group that campaigns for Internet freedoms. The period post 5 August 2019 has changed the whole political landscape of the region. This season’s siege is more crushing than ever, possibly the worst since that first one nearly 30 years ago, a stratagem designed carefully to humiliate an entire people. 

Mental health workers say “Kashmir is witnessing an alarming increase in instances of depression, anxiety and psychotic events”.  Doctors Without Borders estimated after surveying 5,600 households in 2015. Nine of 10 have experienced conflict-related traumas. The figures are much higher than in India, according to other surveys.

Education: The Perennial Casualty

Ten months after India unilaterally revoked Kashmir’s autonomy, reports New York Times, “education stands as one of the crisis’s most glaring casualties”. Previously, Kashmiri Valley in particular suffered huge education losses as the students were forcibly kept away from schools and colleges by frequent official curfews and restrictions, shutdowns, incidents of violence and prolonged political unrest stretching for months, the worst of these witnessed in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2016. “The long school closures in the valley cause major disruptions in young people’s educational and professional development, producing feelings of insecurity, helplessness, and demoralization,” said Haley Duschinski, an anthropologist at Ohio University specializing in Kashmir.

Around 1.5 million Kashmiri students remain out of school. All educational institutions are closed, and most government and private schools are shut—except for few intermittent opening of educational institutions for some weeks, one of the clearest signs of the fear that has gripped Kashmir since the Indian government locked down the disputed territory. Parents in the Kashmir Valley also show this fear that “they are terrified of sending their children out with any exception reaction from the public amid troops deployed everywhere and on the prowl for trouble”. 

“What if the school or a bus carrying children is attacked?” asked Saqib Mushtaq Bhat, a father worried about violence by Indian troops or militants. “What if there are protests and their faces get shot by pellets?’’ Amid only 2G internet services working in the valley, G.N. Var, chairman of Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) which has 2,200 schools associated with it, termed it ‘denial of right to education’. The research scholars across the valley have equally suffered due to low speed internet and hugely affected the mental stability of people across the spectrum of the society. 

He said, “The restrictions on high speed internet are making it difficult for our students to avail online courses and access information which is vital in their career-building. We see it as a denial of the right to education.”  Reports suggest “no government in the world has blocked Internet access as frequently as India with 55 Internet blackouts in 2019 alone, including the longest in recorded history, 213 days, when Delhi put the valley on lockdown last year August.

Settler Colonialism

So far, anti-insurgency operations have proved equally devastating for Kashmiris amid the pandemic. As of June 30, 229 killings, 107 CASO’s (cordon and search operation), 55 internet shutdowns, 48 properties destroyed in the first half of 2020. Children and women continued to be victims of violence in J&K as 3 children and 2 women were killed in the first half of 2020. India continues to take possession of Kashmir despite being hit ever harder by the pandemic.

With all the constitutional amendments and new laws India has instituted in Kashmir especially since 5 August last year, the Palestinian case is often invoked to find the parallelism of how this sounds like the beginning of settler colonialism. The recent developments that highlight this process are, on the contrary, a further deepening and expansion of a matrix of control characteristic of such a project, duly aided through laws, to ensure the eventual elimination of the native.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration’s order to withdraw a 1971 circular that made it mandatory for the Indian Army, the Border Security Force and the Central Reserve Police Force to obtain a “no objection certificate” to acquire land in the region is also seen as part of a settler colonial project. Not only has the decrees evoked a sharp reaction among locals, which have long feared Delhi’s forceful integration of the restive region with the Indian union, but observers are also accusing Modi’s right-wing dispensation of using the Covid-19 pandemic to advance its Hindu settler colonial enterprise in the region, saying it is a page right out of the Israeli playbook to transform the region’s demographics. United Kingdom-based Kashmiri lawyer Mirza Saaib Bég argues that “J&K’s demography is bound to be altered beyond belief. And at a speed so astonishing that the procedure for issuing a domicile certificate will seem, unfortunately, a quasi-colonial project”.

Around 400 thousand people have been granted domicile certificates in Indian-administered Kashmir till July, 2020 proving right the fears of the beginning of demographic changes in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region. The certificate, a sort of citizenship right, entitles a person to residency and government jobs in the region, which till last year was reserved only for the local population. “The whole purpose of revoking Article 370 was to settle outsiders here and change the demography of the state. Now this provides the modalities and entitles so many categories of Indians whose settlement will be legalised over here.” – Kashmiri law professor and legal scholar Sheikh Showkat Hussain (Al Jazeera, April 1, 2020).

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden said, “India should take all necessary steps to restore the rights of all the people of Kashmir.” He also asserts “Restrictions on dissent, such as peaceful protests or shutting or slowing down the internet weakens democracy,” in a policy paper posted on his website. Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement that India’s latest step was a vindication of the country’s “consistent stance that the major intention behind the Indian Government’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 was to change the demographic structure of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and turn Kashmiris into a minority in their own land”.

“This has long been part of the RSS-BJP’s ‘Hindutva’ agenda,” the statement added.

An  Indian Consul General in New York, Sandeep Chakraborty’s recent call for the ‘Israel model’ in Kashmir should ring alarm bells for the Muslim world. He flagrantly asserted “I don’t know why we don’t follow it. It has happened in the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it,” Chakravorty said.

Kashmiris on Twitter were quick to call out Al-Jazeera, accusing them of “promoting settler colonialism”. The social media users were mainly drawing a parallel with expansionist or colonial settlements of Israeli Jews in Palestine or of Han Chinese in Xinjiag to forcibly settle and diffuse indigenous identity.

Tailpiece:

Kashmir is transformed into an open prison where the state works with a self-proscribed impunity to confiscate or mitigate basic universal rights, while the Indian state is trying to entice assimilatory participation of the common people. That territory-wide control by the state and its various institutions is countered through years of survival, persistence and resistance against the state’s operations over Kashmiri lives.

One inevitable fact that successive union governments since India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru have arrogantly with military highhandedness ignored is the political question of Kashmir. The recent political expedition of the Indian government in Kashmir paradigmatically problematized the political destiny of Kashmir and future of Kashmiris. Even in the 21st century globalized world, in the middle of a global pandemic, 8 million people are denied access to education, livelihood, entertainment, and health respite via a medium that has become an essential service for the rest of the world.

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#Current Affairs

Oped: The Treachery Of Spreading Bosnia Genocide Denial In The Muslim Community

The expanding train of the Srebrenica genocide deniers includes the Nobel laureate Peter Handke, an academic Noam Chomsky, the Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, as well as almost all Serbian politicians in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. One name in this group weirdly stands out: “Sheikh” Imran Hosein. A traditionally trained Muslim cleric from Trinidad and Tobago, Hosein has carved his niche mostly with highly speculative interpretations of Islamic apocalyptic texts. He has a global following with more than 200 hundred thousand subscribers to his YouTube channel, and his videos are viewed by hundreds of thousands. He has written tens of books in English, some of which had been translated into major world languages. His denial of the Srebrenica genocide may seem outlandish, coming from a Muslim scholar, but a close inspection of his works reveals ideas that are as disturbing as they are misleading.

Much of Hosain’s output centers around interpreting the apocalyptic texts from the Qur’an and Sunnah on the “end of times” (akhir al-zaman). As in other major religious traditions, these texts are highly allegorical in nature and nobody can claim with certainty their true meaning – nobody, except Imran Hosein. He habitually dismisses those who disagree with his unwarranted conclusions by accusing them of not thinking properly. A Scottish Muslim scholar, Dr. Sohaib Saeed, also wrote about this tendency.

In his interpretations, the Dajjal (“anti-Christ”) is American-Zionist alliance (the West or the NATO), the Ottomans were oppressors of the Orthodox Christians who are, in turn, rightfully hating Islam and Muslims, Sultan Mehmed Fatih was acting on “satanic design” when he conquered Constantinople, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were a false flag operation carried out by the Mossad and its allies, and – yes! – the genocide did not take place in Srebrenica. Such conspiratorial thinking is clearly wrong but is particularly dangerous when dressed in the garb of religious certainty. 

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Hosain frequently presents his opinions as the “Islamic” view of things. His methodology consists of mixing widely accepted Muslim beliefs with his own stretched interpretations. The wider audience may not be as well versed in Islamic logic of interpretation so they may not be able to distinguish between legitimate Muslim beliefs and Hosain’s own warped imagination. In one of his fantastic interpretations, which has much in common with the Christian apocalypticism, the Great War that is nuclear in nature is coming and the Muslims need to align with Russia against the American-Zionist alliance. He sees the struggle in Syria as part of a wider apocalyptic unfolding in which Assad and Putin are playing a positive role. He stretches the Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings to read into them fanciful and extravagant interpretations that are not supported by any established Islamic authority.

Hosain does not deny that a terrible massacre happened in Srebrenica. He, however, denies it was a genocide, contradicting thus numerous legal verdicts by international courts and tribunals. Established by the United Nations’ Security Council, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) delivered a verdict of genocide in 2001 in the case of the Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstić. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague confirmed, in 2007, that genocide took place in Srebrenica. In 2010, two more Bosnian Serb officers were found guilty of committing genocide in Bosnia. The butcher of Srebrenica, Ratko Mladić, was found guilty of genocide in 2017.

In spite of this, and displaying his ignorance on nature and definition of genocide, Hosain stated in an interview with the Serbian media, “Srebrenica was not a genocide. That would mean the whole Serbian people wanted to destroy the whole Muslim people. That never happened.” In a meandering and offensive video “message to Bosnian Muslims” in which he frequently digressed to talking about the end of times, Hosain explained that Srebrenica was not a genocide and that Muslims of Bosnia needed to form an alliance with the Orthodox Serbs. He is oblivious to the fact that the problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the former Yugoslavia stem not from the Bosniaks’ purported unwillingness to form an alliance with the Serbs, but from the aggressive Greater Serbia ideology which had caused misery and destruction in Bosnia, Slovenia, Croatia, and Kosovo. 

Hosein’s views are, of course, welcome in Serbia and in Republika Srpska (Serb-dominated entity within Bosnia), where almost all politicians habitually deny that genocide took place in Srebrenica. He had been interviewed multiple times on Serbian television, where he spewed his views of the Ottoman occupation and crimes against the Serbs, the need to form an alliance between Muslims and Russia, and that Srebrenica was not a genocide. His website contains only one entry on Srebrenica: a long “exposé” that claims no genocide took place in Srebrenica. Authored by two Serbs, Stefan Karganović and Aleksandar Pavić, the special report is a hodge-podge of conspiracy theories, anti-globalization and anti-West views. Karganović, who received more than a million dollars over a six year period from the government of the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska for lobbying efforts in Washington, was recently convicted by the Basic Court in Banja Luka on tax evasion and defamation. The Court issued a warrant for Karganović’s arrest but he is still on the loose. 

True conspirators of the Srebrenica killings, according to Hosain, are not the Serbian political and military leaders, and soldiers who executed Srebrenica’s Muslims. The conspirators are unnamed but it does not take much to understand that he believes that the massacres were ultimately orchestrated by the West, CIA, and NATO. Hosain even stated on the Serbian TV that if people who knew the truth were to come forward they would be executed to hide what really happened. Such opinions are bound to add to an already unbearable pain that many survivors of the Srebrenica genocide are experiencing. It is even more painful when Bosniak victims – who were killed because they were Muslims – are being belittled by an “Islamic” scholar who seems to be more interested in giving comfort to those who actually perpetrated the heinous crime of genocide than in recognizing the victims’ pain. These views are, of course, welcome in Serbia, Russia, and Greece.

It is not difficult to see why Hosain’s views would be popular in today’s day and age where misinformation and fake news are propagated even by the world leaders who should know better. A conspiratorial mindset, mistrust of established facts, undermining of international institutions – these are all hallmarks of the post-truth age. In another time, Imran Hosain would be easily exposed for what he truly is: a charlatan who claims religious expertise. Today, however, his opinions are amplified by social media and by the people who already question science and established facts. For these reasons, he needs to be unmasked to safeguard the very religious foundations which he claims to uphold but ultimately undermines. 

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