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Uyghurs in China: We Buried the Quran in Our Backyards

Hena Zuberi

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With the news of China forcing imams to dance in public and to make oaths to keep children away from religion in what is known as Xinjiang, where government officials warned that Muslims “During Ramadan do not engage in fasting, vigils or other religious activities,” effectively banning Ramadan, I wanted to share an interview that I did for the Muslim Link newspaper, with the Prime Minister of the East Turkistan Government in Exile, Anwar Yusuf Turani.

“We are an occupied territory. We know the plights of our Muslim brothers and sisters in Palestine, Kashmir, but why doesn’t the Muslim world know about our struggle?” asks Uyghur diaspora leader from East Turkistan, Anwar Yusuf Turani. He is the founder and prime minister of the East Turkistan Government in Exile. Uyghurs are a Turkic people by race and language, Muslim by religion.

“There are 35 million of us,” he says, some in exile, others in the land of what is known to the world as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. This number is hotly contested and rejected by the Chinese government’s official census.

Turani says most indigenous people of the region do not accept the name Xinjiang, meaning “new territory”, and prefer the name Sharqi Turkistan, but even using this name is seen as a threat to the sovereignty of China. He believes that China ends with the boundary of the Great Wall.

In 1949, when Mao Zedong declared the establishment of Communist rule in China, the map of China looked different than the one seen today. Tibet was free and north of Tibet, East Turkistan, the size of Alaska, existed as an independent nation.

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In talking with Turani, I learned that the struggle for independence is not new as an East Turkistan Republic was set up in Kashgar in 1933 and again in Ghulja in the 1940s, brutally crushed both times. The republic was short-lived. Its entire leadership perished in a plane crash en route to Beijing for talks with Chinese officials. According to the Global Museum of Communism, devoid of leadership, the East Turkistan Republic was then “liberated” by Chinese Communist Party troops. In essence, the Communists, “marched in and have occupied the overwhelmingly Muslim country, renaming it Xinjiang.”

Living in Maoist Run Kashgar

Turani, born in 1962, remembers his neighborhood in Artush, 40 km from of the ancient city of Kashgar. Islam was systematically erased and every region was divided; the head of each jurisdiction was Chinese or pro Chinese, and Maoist ideology was implemented.

“I remember 3-4 years of living in a labor camp in the outskirts in Tijen, forced by the Chinese military, since my parents opposed the Chinese policies.” Turani’s parents were labeled counter revolutionaries—bourgeois—and his father was fired from his position as the head of the agricultural department.

22 years of persecution followed his family. “In our town [where we lived], there was a man named Qudrat, and his wife, Quresh Khan. They were very poor; the government lured them with rhetoric and land, gave them a confiscated house from a landowner, after executing him,” Turani relates a story of manipulation of the masses. Happy to receive land from the government, elderly Qudrat and his family were then forced to take care of ‘a hundred pigs’. Turani and his parents, and the Khans had never seen a pig before in their lives, he shudders while squeezing the memories out, of a whole population of the Muslim town being given ‘free’ piglets to raise.

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“Most masajid [in our area] turned into propaganda centers, cinemas and movie theaters,” he recalls the horrific memories. “Our county became a labor camp,” he says, and many wealthy landowners were executed.

From his middle school days, Turani recalls the destruction of a historic Muslim cemetery in the city; later a military base was built on sacred grounds.

“My father had a Quran buried in our backyard I saw that with my eyes. I saw my father dig that Quran out after the death of Chairman Mao—my father used to read that Quran,” His eyes watered at the memory.

Dark Cloud of Death

“The occupation has been beyond brutal: open-air above-ground nuclear tests that killed hundreds of thousands, executed political prisoners, razed mosques, mass forced immigration of ethnic Chinese, deliberate economic discrimination in favor of said ethnic Chinese, Sinicization, etc.,” writes D.J. McGuire, elected Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia and a blogger who has been writing and lobbying against Communist China’s role in aiding terrorist states—a glaring omission from the prevailing discussions about the war against terror. The Lop Nor testing site, located in East Turkistan, was used for 46 individual nuclear detonations from 1964-1996.

 

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These were the largest ongoing series of tests ever to be carried out in a populated area.

A conference was held in Brussels in The European Parliament in 2012 to examine the high rates of cancer, birth defects, and radiation-related illnesses in East Turkestan. Dr Enver Tohti, a Uyghur Surgeon and Independent Researcher, presented at the conference. He writes in ’46 Detonations Later: The Human Costs of the CCP´s Nuclear Programme’, that a recent study conducted by Japanese professor and physicist Jun Takada concluded that Chinese nuclear weapon tests caused more deaths than those of any other nation. Takada who studied radiation effects from tests conducted by the U.S., the former Soviet Union and France, has reported that the Chinese government surface nuclear tests caused up to 190,000 deaths in the surrounding areas from the explosion and a further million were killed by the radiation from the three-megaton explosions. This is 200 times larger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, says Takada, who published his findings in a book, Chinese Nuclear Tests (Iryo­ka­gakusha, 2009). Since he was not allowed into the area, he visited neighbouring Kazakhstan using radiation levels measured there from 1995 to 2002. ‘He devised a computer model to estimate fallout patterns using Soviet rec­ords of detonation size and wind velocity,’ according to Scientific American, extrapolating the data for China.

Escape to America

Turani escaped from China and came to the United States as the first East Turkistani seeking asylum in the country. A Physics teacher, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, Gulzighra (who is a registered nurse) and their four children. He looks Afghan or Pakistani, could pass for Middle Eastern, anything but Asiatic. Most Uyghurs look like him but many photographs published by newspapers in the Muslim world show ‘Chinese Muslims in Beijing’ and call them Uyghur, he says.

In September 2004, Turani and his fellow countrymen declared an East Turkistan Government in Exile inside the U.S. Congress. They have a constitution, a flag and a written language, and a coat of arms based on the two previous states. East Turkistan exiles include Uyghurs, Kyrgyzs, Uzbeks, and Tajiks. The People’s Republic of China opposed the formation of the East Turkistan Government in Exile. The fallout was great and the US government was quick to distance themselves away from the nascent government, saying that they do not recognize them. “The government in exile stated that its goal is freedom and democracy for its people, and an end to Communist China’s occupation. It is explicitly non-violent, has repeatedly condemned al Qaeda-sponsored acts of terrorism,” writes McGuire.

Turani, whose home is graced by a huge photograph of him embracing the Dalai Lama, says that China has used the global war on terror as an excuse to continue brutal oppression of the Uyghur Muslims. As noted by Amnesty International, many innocent Uyghur men and women including children have been massacred as recently as last Ramadan in Yarkant by the communist Chinese authorities ‘in the pretext of terrorists, extremists, and separatists.’

Dr. Haiyun Ma, a Hui Chinese professor of history in Maryland agrees, “China’s “Anti-Three (Evil) Forces” campaign (extremism, separatism, terrorism), begun roughly in the 1990s, has since extended to preventing the Uyghurs from gaining their independence. China — which looks at the U.S. waging a war in Afghanistan (also against terrorism and extremism) not so far away — has used the perceived threat of terrorism to justify their actions in Xinjiang.”

There has been development in the region, Turani concurs, but just like the West Bank settlements by and for Israelis, the development is only reserved for ethnic Hans or those who toe the Chinese government’s line. Urumchi, the main city is filled by ethnic Chinese; in some areas there are only five percent Turkistani people left, especially in the downtown area.

Curating A Forgotten History

Turani asserts that the native Uyghur population is diminishing. There is no hard data to show that the population is decreasing, and in fact most census studies show that there has been a population growth. However, the percentage share of the Uyghur population is decreasing based on official and unofficial statistics. In 1964, it was 90 percent of the population, but through immigration from mainland China, the population is roughly 50-50. The Muslim population is controlled through birth control and forced abortion, which Muslims believe are divinely forbidden or haram. Turani says that if Muslim mothers are found pregnant with more than 2 children, they are taken to the hospital and even if they are 9 months pregnant their babies are systematically slaughtered in their bellies—physically, socially, psychologically and spiritually scarring the Muslim families. Many Uyghurs live in poverty, their children are not allowed to practice Islam. Those who work for the government are also not allowed to practice their faith. This Ramadan, Muslim students and civil servants were ordered to avoid taking part in fasting. Students who were found fasting were force fed during the day. Young boys and men are routinely taken away for ‘illegal’ Islamic classes.

Dr. Ma verifies the Tukistani leader’s claims; in an interview with Duke University’s public scholarship forum Islamic Commentary, he comments that “economically, the Uyghurs have little, if no access to the Chinese state economy, which includes state corporations and the quasi-military Xinjiang Development and Construction Corps (Its members are farmers during peacetime and soldiers during wartime). Unlike the Han-populated coastal regions of the southeast, the Uyghur economy in Xinjiang is almost dissociated from the Chinese economy. Adding to this, there was a large Han immigration [to the region], after the “liberation” of Xinjiang – following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Large military and militia personnel, their relatives, intellectuals, and youth were sent by the government to Xinjiang during various periods. More recently, Han farmers and businessmen came to Xinjiang. Since they typically have friendly relations with Xinjiang officials and military (either they are friends or relatives), Han farmers and businessmen coming to Xinjiang have been able to quickly dominate Xinjiang’s economic sectors — from mining to farming.”

In his office, Turani has a studio set up where he broadcasts speeches on his Youtube channels—social media and the internet is extremely controlled in China—intent on making sure that his people don’t forget their legacy and their history.

There is a collection of photos of Uyghur scholars, leaders.

A wall is dedicated to Muhammad Ali Tawfiq (Bey), the reformist educator who built 24 schools in Turani’s city. He was murdered by the Chinese along with his followers in 1937, including Turani’s uncles.

A devout Muslim with a melodious qiraa (recitation), Turani shows photographs he has curated of young men arrested for wearing the Turkish flag on their t-shirts, Islamic scholars in jail for teaching Quran to children, Uyghur women jailed for wearing the hijab.

“Why doesn’t the Muslim world talk about us?” he questions. He also says that many times Chinese Muslims are shown in media when referencing Uyghur people, further diluting their existence.

The Case of Professor Tohti

Recently an economics professor and Uyghur rights advocate Ilham Tohti was arrested and put on trial for ‘promoting’ separatism (he is now in prison for life). Turani takes exception to this claim—separatism is not the right word in this situation, as the Uyghurs are occupied, he says.

An accusation of separatism carries the death sentence. When Western newspapers claim ‘violent separatism’ in the region, Turani struggles to contain his displeasure. “The place is like a pressure cooker; no one is allowed to talk, cameras watch every move. Hundreds and thousands are missing or dead. And we are violent separatists?” he says. Violence stems from the repressive policies, not from radical ideology.

Many Uyghur scholars such as Abdulkarim Abduwali, alims (religious scholars), businessmen, and educated people have died under the regime and Tohti is yet another name on the list of people who have sacrificed their lives. Before his arrest Ilham Tohti, 44, was attacked by three secret policemen who screamed, “We’ll kill your whole family!” shares his friend, in an article about his arrest in The Guardian. Tohti was also a blogger and focused on the need to implement, “Xinjiang’s long-promised autonomy; the need to observe the rule of law and human rights; that all ethnic groups should share fairly in the fruits of China’s development; and that discrimination based on region, ethnicity or gender must be eliminated.” “Criticism and dissent is good for any government. What was Professor [Tohti] doing that he deserves to [be] jailed?” Turani asks. “Anyone who stands up for their human rights is labeled a counter-revolutionary,” he adds.

Independence vs Autonomy

Turani wants independence, other Uyghurs wants autonomy. Either way, he believes that a fair referendum could never take place in a region where two or more people are not allowed to convene without suspicion and harassment from the secret police; where jobs, passports, travel, even Jumuah khutbahs are all closely monitored by the Chinese government. People lose their pensions if they go on Hajj—if they are lucky enough to acquire a passport. Turani’s relatives have all been blackmarked and cannot travel outside the region, unless they bribe officials.

There has been some debate about the Uyghur identity, especially by Kristian Petersen, an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha who wrote a study in the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs on Uyghur presence of the internet— who they originally were and how and where the name was applied—but Turani wants freedom for all the East Turkistani people, not just those who identify as the Uyghurs.

Turani says he has the support of a handful of congressmen after years of activism. From time to time, Turkey will challenge China on its oppressive policies, but he says most other Muslim nations, including neighboring Pakistan, have turned their back. He understands why his people’s struggle is not a priority for people of other faiths but to his Muslim brothers, Turani has a message, “Do you not feel our pain?”

Keep our Uighur brothers and sisters in your special Ramadan Duas.

Hena Zuberi is the Editor in Chief of Muslimmatters.org. She is also a Staff Reporter at the Muslim Link newspaper which serves the DC Metro. She serves on the board of the Aafia Foundation and Words Heal, Inc. Hena has worked as a television news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia and World Television News. A mom of four and a Green Muslim, she lives and preaches a whole food, organic life which she believes is closest to Sunnah. Active in her SoCal community, Hena served as the Youth Director for the Unity Center. Using her experience with Youth, she conducts Growing Up With God workshops. hena.z@muslimmatters.org Follow her on Twitter @henazuberi.

43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Faris Mee

    June 18, 2015 at 9:40 PM

    The solution is the Islamic State. There is no other way.

    • Avatar

      Muhammad

      June 19, 2015 at 6:42 AM

      Terse yet precise. But indeed not the IS that is currently rampaging in Syria. Ostensibly not that one. So the question arises, have we done our part in reviving the Khilafah?

      • Avatar

        Aam

        June 19, 2015 at 5:37 PM

        Brother , you need to watch your mouth before saying anything like that (hands in this case). I am sure that your words are not based on the research that you have been doing since a decade for the pursuit of TRUTH but rather it is based on the ideas of a Hollywood movie you just watched or a fake CNN report you just read or a Game of Thrones you just enjoyed with your daughters and son at a family event.

    • Avatar

      Omar

      June 19, 2015 at 11:36 AM

      No, actually that is not the solution. The solution is for you to care about their plight as much as you care about Syria, Palestine and do something about it.

      A magical “Islamic State” will not solve anything if people are not willing to change.

      Muslims have to become better Muslims and that is “The Solution”.

    • Avatar

      SamBO

      June 19, 2015 at 11:48 AM

      Islamic state? No thanks! Not on my road, not down my yard, and not in my manor. And I have one hundred thousand reasons why. I notice my last comment was deleted. I wonder how long freedom of speech will mean anything?

    • Avatar

      Aam

      June 19, 2015 at 5:33 PM

      You are right but the ignorant muslims of modern times; the so called moderate or modern muslims would never allow that to happen. They do not like it when they are stopped from doing anything sinful.

      • Avatar

        Wolday

        June 23, 2015 at 10:52 AM

        Lol, you can say that again

  2. Avatar

    Mohammad Sudaiz

    June 18, 2015 at 10:09 PM

    May ALLAH grant your freedom from the communist China..Ameen ya Rabbi

  3. Avatar

    Nida

    June 18, 2015 at 10:40 PM

    Thank you for this article. I had no idea about any of this. I feel like I have been living under a cave throughout my time. Ya Allah help the Muslims in East Turkistan, guide them to the right path and grant them success.

  4. Avatar

    THANVEERUL HAQ

    June 19, 2015 at 1:07 AM

    Insha Allah, May Allah give hidayah, and show all muslim brothers right path, once we get in right path no one in the world has power to touch. because allah help will be with us.

  5. Avatar

    Mohammed Yaseen

    June 19, 2015 at 1:20 AM

    I never knew uyghurs muslims are suffering this much.I really cried after reading this article.May Allah grant all Uyghur muslim brothers and sister jannat ul firdous….Aameen

  6. Avatar

    Ruby

    June 19, 2015 at 1:30 AM

    May Allah swt ease the difficulties and hardships these brothers and sisters of ours are facing at the hands of these oppressors, ameen.
    They will try to extinguish the Light of Allah and they will never succeed!

  7. Avatar

    Harun

    June 19, 2015 at 2:25 AM

    May Allah save the Muslim ummah where ever they are and may He protect Islam in what ever circumstance. Ya Allah you know what is happening to the Muslims in East Turkistan, listen to our prayers and look into our pains in this Holy month and beyond.

  8. Avatar

    Anonmous

    June 19, 2015 at 2:46 AM

    Why is muslim world OIC silent about this..why is US not putting sanctions on China ? Why is the world not boycotting them ?

  9. Avatar

    Gumel

    June 19, 2015 at 4:16 AM

    Oh Allah Help Uyghur Muslims; This shows there is no freedom under Chinese government. Why Amnesty cannot intervene?

  10. Avatar

    Lilli

    June 19, 2015 at 6:11 AM

    You (ignorantly) say all these things, yet you’re the one causing problems and hate- while the rest of the comments are sympathetic prayers for those who are hurting. This article doesn’t have to be about Islam for you. Look past that and read it again.

  11. Avatar

    Lilli

    June 19, 2015 at 6:15 AM

    (My previous comment was for a specific commenter)

  12. Avatar

    Umar Adamu

    June 19, 2015 at 10:20 AM

    Ya Allah help the Muslims in East Turkistan, guide them to the right path and grant them success. Ya Allah assist the muslims the opressed all over the world, ameen thuma ameen.

  13. Avatar

    Hasan

    June 19, 2015 at 4:03 PM

    Erdogan and Turkey please do more for our brothers and sisters in East Turkistan and in other oppressed nations. Allah sees all things and it’s aware of what they do.

  14. Avatar

    wasim

    June 19, 2015 at 4:32 PM

    Assalam . i never make china for unknown i do know you have musalman .ALLAH is only God the highest .if can’t live musalman there then we have pakistan next door

  15. Avatar

    ZAI

    June 19, 2015 at 5:11 PM

    “why doesn’t the Muslim world know about our struggle?”

    Because Muslim majority nations and Muslim ethno- nationalists look after their own interests just like any others while only giving lip service to “ummah”, and in this case China is Pakistan’s best buddy…so this will be suppressed so as not to upset China. “Ummah” or “Islam” is used by many Muslims and Muslim majority nations the same way America uses “freedom”… God be with you brothers, because the Muslim “ummah” won’t be in any meaningful way while Pakistan’s military has any influence…

    • Avatar

      Sunny Salman Jamil

      March 17, 2016 at 12:04 PM

      You hit the nail on the head. Pakistan borders what China calls its Xinjiang province. If Xinjiang was freed and East Turkistan was formed, then China would no longer have access to the ports in Karachi and China would not like that.

  16. Avatar

    PRINCESS NAF

    June 20, 2015 at 3:59 AM

    its so sad that i read with pain in my heart,when will people learn that islam is not the problem but the solution? i feel pin for my brethren,patient oh brothers and sisters ALLAH will never let the oppress go unpunish,my prayer shall be with you INSHAA ALLAH forever

  17. Avatar

    Dyyf

    June 20, 2015 at 12:32 PM

    Considering that Non-Muslims are brutally oppressed in Muslim nations (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, now Turkey, Egypt and Libya among others) maybe it’s karma that Muslims are somewhat oppressed in non-muslim countries. You would do well to criticize as forcefully, or more, your brethren for doing so completely what you find fault in others doing to you partially.

    • Avatar

      M. Mahmud

      June 22, 2015 at 7:12 PM

      Wait…so non-Muslim oppression of Muslims is “partial while Muslim oppression of non-Muslims is “complete”?

      Thank you for demonstrating yet again the typical non-Muslim double-standards.

  18. Avatar

    Ali

    June 24, 2015 at 8:23 AM

    Isn’t it true that Muslims will only be victorious over the kuffaar once Eesa ibn Maryam AS returns to earth? And if so, isn’t it futile to fight them until that time comes? Or am i being too pragmatic…

  19. Avatar

    Peter Hall

    June 27, 2015 at 6:16 PM

    I am saddened by the responses to this article.

    I note many calls for Allah, to fix a man made problem.

    I note that even calls for the evil that is IS, to be visited upon these people.

    However, as a non muslim, I feel for these people, and the injustice is not the injustice that is against Islam.

    The injustice is that these people are living in a country where they are not free to practice their religion, they are discriminated on the basis of race, and they have say in how they live.

    The 3 basic freedoms these people should have are being denied to them by the Chinese Government.

    Calling for Allah to fix these problems is not only completely useless, it is also using Allah to be used as an excuse to do nothing about it. That is shameful, if Muslims really do respect Allah, why do they constantly call to Allah, and use Allah as an excuse to do nothing? I see it all the time, that the Muslim world does nothing, expecting Allah to fix the problems that are the result of the evil of man, or the laziness of mankind.

    Virtually every comment on here, asks why SOMEONE ELSE isn’t doing something about this injustice. How pathetic!

    IS is just another form of evil formed by men, that allows the ruthless and the evil to what they want, and has no respect for the basic rights of humans to practice their religions, to not be discriminated against and to have a say in how the society they live in is run. That is exactly the same as what the Chinese Government is doing. Same man made evil visited upon people.

    Replacing the ruling body that suppresses one religion or any, with one that suppresses one religion in favour of others, is the same evil, visited in a different way.

    When will the bulk of Muslims understand that Islam is strong enough to stand on its own feet, Islam does not need to enforce its beliefs and doctrines by threat or fear.

    When will Muslims learn that when a problem is created solely by man, such as now being visited upon the Uyghurs, by the Communist Chinese, needs to be fixed by a Political solution. That these people are Muslim is irrelevant, if they were Hindus, or Christians, the same moral outrage should be felt by free thinking moral people.

    The Uyghur Muslims political problems should not be made a Muslim issue, it should be made a issue of basic human rights, the freedom of religion, the freedom of expression, the right to self determination and the right to not be discriminated against based on race.

    Now the Qu’ran contains the ethical elements of all these rights, there is no compulsion in religion, is an example, shows that Muslim ethics can influence a political solution to a man made problem. However, man made problems require men to act.

    Calling to Allah to solve a man made problem is insulting to Allah, and shows how lazy some Muslims are, that they invoke Allahs name, and expect Allah to do something about a situation, that they are too lazy to do anything about.

    What do these people think? Allah is a servant ? They invoke Allahs name and expect that will solve the problem?

    Take some personal responsibility, do not talk about it, do something about it. Lobby the UN, write a letter, boycott Chinese goods, wear a T-shirt, write a blog, do SOMETHING other than invoke Allah as an excuse to do nothing.

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala

      June 28, 2015 at 5:48 AM

      Peter I do not agree on it that Muslims shouldn’t call upon Allah (SWT) for His help. But I totally agree that we have to put in our two cents worth of effort against this problem and pray alongside for Allah (SWT) to make it amount to a lot.

      Best Regards
      Aly

      *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

      • Avatar

        Peter Hall

        June 28, 2015 at 5:55 AM

        Greetings Aly

        It is not calling upon Allah, it is how they call upon Allah.

        I feel sorry for the persecution these people are suffering, and it is the duty of all moral people to do something to help them. I do not see it as a religious issue, but a moral issue, the morality of man.

        Calling on Allah’s help is one thing, asking him to fix the mess of man, but do nothing yourself, is just lazy, ignorant and disrespectful.

        Evil only truly triumphs, when good men do nothing!

    • Avatar

      Abdul Rahim

      January 6, 2016 at 4:57 AM

      Well said. You obviously understood the issue. They need a political solution. Your suggestions are well meaning and indeed a good start. They must fight for media coverage, be heard and seen……as an oppressed and dispossessed community. Be politically savvy and don’t ever indulge in violent protest……lest the Chinese government will be quick to label them as terrorists. It’s a battle of the minds……to win a positive global opinion. That’s the only way.

  20. Avatar

    Aydin Anwar

    July 4, 2015 at 2:29 PM

    Assalamu Alaykum everyone,

    My name is Aydin Anwar Turani and I’m writing on behalf of East Turkistan Government-in-Exile. Thank you very much for your love and support for the cause of the oppressed people of East Turkistan. We are so glad that this article generated many comments and discussions.

    We are also very appreciative of the countless duas made toward the Uyghurs in East Turkistan. Unfortunately, like Peter Hall mentioned, prayer is not enough. Yes; it can have a profound impact, but it can also have a very minimal impact when no action is taken. What we need to do is give the same amount of attention we give to Palestine and Syria to East Turkistan. And rally together against the Chinese government.

    The first step to solving any problem is identifying the problem itself. The main problem lies within the lack of attention and awareness of what is going on back in East Turkistan. Unfortunately, a very small portion of the international community knows what is going on back in East Turkistan, while the rest have never heard of the Uyghurs. It is quite saddening actually when we realize how little we know about what is going on in other parts of the world—parts of the world that are yearning for help as they are trapped under thick layers of cruelty and injustice.

    Also, if you have any ambiguities that need to be cleared and happen to live in the D.C. area, East Turkistan Government-in-Exile will be hosting an event on July 25th: East Turkistan Awareness Day Conference. The purpose of this event is to raise awareness to the international community about the history, culture, and current political situation of East Turkistan. There will be various well-respected speakers and scholars from the D.C. area who will delve into the underlying issues of what, how, and why the atrocities are occurring back in East Turkistan and, most importantly, what we can do as a community to improve the plight of the Uyghurs back in their homeland.

    Program Details:
    When: Saturday, July 25th at 12:00PM-4:30PM
    Where: Chantilly Regional Library (4000 Stringfellow Rd Chantilly, VA 20151)

    Speakers:
    — Anwar Yusuf Turani (Prime Minister of East Turkistan Government-in-Exile)
    — Imam Taalib Abdul-Samad (Director of Islamic Research and Humanitarian Service- Center of America)
    — Altan Erg (Representative of Turkish American Cultural Center in Maryland)
    — Dr. Jeannette Hablullah (N.D. Wholistic Health Practitioner, Author of The Pearl Within)
    — Imam Ali Siddiqui
    — Sheikh Muhammad Raja
    — Dr. Souheil Ghannouchi

    Moderator: Turkel Anwar (Cornell University 2015)

    ** Refreshments will be served and event will be free of charge**

    • Avatar

      Abdul Rahim

      January 6, 2016 at 5:31 AM

      Dear Aydin,
      You are spot on. The rest of the world know very little about this, including myself. Obviously, lack of media coverage. Sad to know even the notorious Boko Haram received more international media coverage for their heinous crimes. On the other hand we are bombarded with official news of Chinese Muslims in China doing relatively well, appearing wealthy enough with well dressed young children running in the playground. Until your report highlighted that the many pictures that the world get to see are actually Chinese Muslims in Beijing and not the supposedly oppressed Uighurs……..My family and I had just returned from a 9-day winter holiday in Beijing and Xi’an, those Muslim tour stuff. Obviously all the Muslims that I encountered are Chinese looking and apparently were quite pleased with their lives. We thought they are Uighurs too. Now I know the difference. Many of us have been ignorant about the plight of our Uighurs brothers, surely we are not apathetic about your cause…..

  21. Avatar

    bob

    July 5, 2015 at 9:05 PM

    I wonder when a Muslim will write an article about the plight of Hindu’s in Pakistan, The slaughter of 2Million of them when East Pakistan became Bangladesh. Over the centuries Muslims eliminated 80+ million Hindu’s, why do you hate them so much is it because they invented Algebra? How about the burning of Churches and the persecution of Christians in Egypt. A good article on Nigerian Muslims killing Christians. Stories abound about Muslim intolerance of other peoples beliefs, history is awash with it. What about a treatise on the 250 million slaves taken from Africa to satiate the sexual appetite of muslims. mention of the fact 19 men or boys would die of shock or blood loss so that a eunuch could be created would not go astray.
    How about a bit of truth about your not so tolerant religion!

    • Avatar

      Peter Hall

      July 5, 2015 at 10:16 PM

      I Agree with you totally, but as a non Muslim, I see that 2 wrongs do not make a right. What Muslims suffer in China is wrong and should be condemned just as strongly as condemning what ISIS is doing.

      I see that you do not reduce the inhumanity of man, by turning a blind eye to some injustice, in favour of other injustices.

      The “you reap what you sow” principal applies here. 200 years ago Christians were doing horrible things to Black Africans as well, 70 jews ago, Christian cultures were doing horrible things to Jews. No ones hands are clean when it comes to the past, so bringing up things from the past is of no benefit, it only allows excuses to foment.

      However, if injustice and cruelty, no matter who commits it, is condemned by men and women of good conscience everywhere, then hopefully man’s inhumanity to their fellow man will reduce with time. we should learn from the past, not draw excuses from it. We should embrace a future where every man, and woman, has the chance to improve the overall morality and humanity of the societies we live in, not reduce it, by their actions.

      • Avatar

        Peter Hall

        July 5, 2015 at 10:18 PM

        Sorry about the typos, but posting from a smartphone.

      • Avatar

        Bob

        July 6, 2015 at 1:26 AM

        Peter wrote “We should embrace a future where every man, and woman, has the chance to improve the overall morality and humanity of the societies we live in, not reduce it, by their actions”.

        I totally agree Peter, however Islam does not allow this of its adherents.

        I have only mentioned a few of Islam’s appalling atrocities throughout its debauched history. Christianity ceased its world wide purge of others at least two centuries ago. Hindu’s won’t even eat an egg because they think its taking a life but are persecuted and killed by Muslims on a daily basis.

        Islam has proven itself to be totally incompatible with the western world and has to be eradicated, but not in the way it is doing it to others.

      • Avatar

        Abdul Rahim

        January 6, 2016 at 5:42 AM

        Mr. Peter Hill, you have my utmost respect. All your comments have been very illuminating as a fellow human being….as an intellectual. I only came across this website today, but your posts which were in July, stood out glaringly for clarity of thoughts. Bravo.

    • Avatar

      EM Zee

      March 7, 2016 at 5:39 PM

      LOL WHAT? ALGEBRA, WAS MADE BY INDIANS?
      That point was enough to show how ignorant and uninformed you are.
      And btw, Algebra is derived from the Arabic word Al Jabr الجبر. It was made by the Persian MUSLIM Mathematician Muhammad Ibn Musa Al-Khawarizmi.

  22. Avatar

    Tomy

    August 23, 2015 at 10:44 PM

    totally lying !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Avatar

      Abdul Rahim

      January 6, 2016 at 5:55 AM

      Sincere apologies. I meant Mr. Peter Hall.

  23. Pingback: “Things are getting worse day by day” – an interview with Uyghur Muslim “Mr X” | Voice of Salam

  24. Avatar

    Peter Tager

    October 11, 2016 at 3:50 PM

    And they support Pakistan?

  25. Avatar

    Manal

    January 6, 2018 at 12:54 PM

    I feel your pain. Im sorry my country Pakistans failed you. Ill spread awareness as much as I can. Im not sure what else I can do. If anyone has a plan im in.

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#Current Affairs

Why Israel Should Be ‘Singled Out’ For Its Human Rights Record

Unlike other countries, ordinary citizens are complicit in the perpetual crimes committed against defenseless Palestinians.

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Why is everyone so obsessed with Israel’s human rights abuses? From Saudi Arabia, to Syria, to North Korea to Iran. All these nations are involved in flagrant violations of human right, so why all the focus on Israel – ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’? Clearly, if you ignore these other violations and only focus on Israel, you must be anti-Semitic. What else could be your motivations for this double standard?

This is one of the most common contentions raised when Israel is criticized for its human rights record. I personally don’t believe in entertaining this question – it shouldn’t matter why an activist is choosing to focus on one conflict and not others. What matters are the facts being raised; putting into question the motives behind criticizing Israel is a common tactic to detract from the topic at hand. The conversation soon turns into some circular argument about anti-Semitism and the plight of the Palestinian people is lost. More importantly, this charge of having double standards is often disingenuous. For example, Representative Ihan Omar has been repeatedly accused of this recently and her motives have been called ‘suspicious’ – despite her vocal criticism of other countries, especially Saudi Arabia.

However, this point is so frequently brought up, I think that perhaps its time activists and critics simply own up to it. Yes – Israel should be singled out, for some very good reasons. These reasons relate to there being a number of unique privileges that the country enjoys; these allow it to get away with much of the abuses it commits. Human right activists thus must be extra vocal when comes to Israel as they have to overcome the unparalleled level of support for the country, particularly in the US and Canada. The following points summarize why Israel should in fact be singled out:

1) Ideological support from ordinary citizens

When Iran and North Korea commit human right abuses, we don’t have to worry about everyone from journalists to clerics to average students on campuses coming out and defending those countries. When most nations commit atrocities, our journalists and politicians call them out, sanctions are imposed, they are taking them to the International Court of Justice, etc. There are instruments in place to take care of other ‘rogue’ nations – without the need for intervention from the common man.

Israel, however, is unique in that it has traditionally enjoyed widespread ideological support, primarily from the Jewish community and Evangelical Christians, in the West. This support is a result of the historical circumstances and pseudo-religious ideology that drove the creation of the state in 1948. The successful spread of this nationalistic dogma for the last century means Israel can count on ordinary citizens from Western countries to comes to its defense. This support can come in the form of foreign enlistment to its military, students conducting campus activism, politicians shielding it from criticisms and journalists voluntarily writing in its support and spreading state propaganda.

This ideological and nationalistic attachment to the country is the prime reason why it is so incredibly difficult to have any kind of sane conversation about Israel in the public sphere – criticism is quickly seen as an attack on Jewish identity and interpreted as an ‘existential threat’ to the nation by its supporters. Any attempts to take Israel to account through standard means are thwarted because of the political backlash feared from the country’s supporters in the West.

2) Unconditional political support of a world superpower

The US is Israel’s most important and closest ally in the Middle-East. No matter what war crimes Israel commits, it can count on America to have its back. This support means the US will use its veto power to support Israel against actions of the UN Security Council, it will use its diplomatic influence to shield any punitive actions from other nations and it will use its military might to intervene if need be. The backing of the US is one of the main reasons why the Israeli occupation and expansion of the colonial settlement enterprise continues to this day without any repercussions.

While US support might be especially staunch for Israel, this factor is certainly not unique to the country. Any country which has this privilege, e.g. Saudi Arabia, should be under far great scrutiny for its human rights violations than others.

3)  Military aid and complicity of tax-payers

US tax-payers are directly paying for Israel to carry out its occupation of the Palestinian people.

Israel is the largest recipient of US-military aid – it receives an astonishing $3 billion dollars every year. This aid, according to a US congressional report, “has helped transform Israel’s armed forces into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world.”

Unlike other countries, ordinary citizens are complicit in the perpetual crimes committed against defenseless Palestinians. Activists and citizens thus have a greater responsibility to speak out against Israel as their government is paying the country to carry out its atrocities. Not only is this aid morally reprehensible, but it is also illegal under United States Leahy Laws.

4) The Israeli lobby

The Israeli lobby is one of the most powerful groups in Washington and is the primary force for ensuring continued US political support for the nation. It consists of an assortment of formal lobby groups (AIPAC, Christians United for Israel), think-thanks (Washington Institute for Near East Policy), political action committee or PACs, not-for-profit organizations (B’nai B’irth, American Jewish Congress, Stand for Israel) and media watchdogs (CAMERA, Honest Reporting). These organizations together exercise an incredible amount of political influence. They ensure that any criticism of Israel is either stifled or there are serious consequences for those who speak up. In 2018 alone, pro-Israel donors spent $22 million on lobbying for the country – far greater than any other nation. Pro-Israel lobbies similarly influence politics in other places such as the UK, Canada, and Europe.

5) One of the longest-running occupation in human history

This point really should be the first one on this list – and it is the only one that should matter. However, because of the unique privileges that Israel enjoys, it is hard to get to the crux of what it is actually doing. Israel, with U.S. support, has militarily occupied the Palestinian territories (West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem) since 1967. The belligerent occupation, over 50 years old, is one of the longest, bloodiest and brutal in human history.

Israel continues to steal land and build settler colonies the West Bank – in flagrant violation of international law. It has implemented a system of apartheid in these territories which is reminiscent of the racist regime of South Africa. The Gaza strip has been under an insufferable siege which has made the living conditions deplorable; it has been referred to the world’s largest ‘open-air prison’. In addition to this institutional oppression, crimes committed against Palestinians include: routinely killing civilian protesters, including teenagers and medics, torture of Palestinians and severe restrictions on the everyday movement of Palestinians.

The brutality, consistency and the duration for which Israel has oppressed Palestinians is alone enough reason for it being ‘singled out’. No other nation comes close to its record. However, for the reasons mentioned above, Israel’s propaganda machine has effectively painted itself as just another ‘liberal democracy’ in the eyes of the general public. Any attempt to bring to light these atrocities are met with ‘suspicion’ about the ‘real’ motives of the critics. Given the points mentioned here, it should be evident that the level of support for Israeli aggression is uniquely disproportionate – it is thus fitting that criticism of the country is equally vocal and unparalleled as well.

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#Society

Ya Qawmi: Strengthen Civic Roots In Society To Be A Force For Good

Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari

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For believers the traditions and teachings of the Prophets (blessings on them), particularly Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), are paramount. Each Prophet of God belonged to a community which is termed as their Qawm in the Qur’an. Prophet Lut (Lot) was born in Iraq, but settled in Trans-Jordan and then became part of the people, Qawm of Lut, in his new-found home. All the Prophets addressed those around them as ‘Ya Qawmi’ (O, my people) while inviting them to the religion of submission, Islam. Those who accepted the Prophets’ message became part of their Ummah. So, individuals from any ethnicity or community could become part of the Ummah – such as the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad.

Believers thus have dual obligations: a) towards their own Qawm (country), and b) towards their Ummah (religious companions). As God’s grateful servants, Muslims should strive to give their best to both their Qawm and Ummah with their ability, time and skillset. It is imperative for practising and active Muslims to carry out Islah (improvement of character, etc) of people in their Ummah and be a witness of Islam to non-Muslims in their Qawm and beyond. This in effect is their service to humanity and to please their Creator. With this basic understanding of the concept, every Muslim should prioritise his or her activities and try their utmost to serve human beings with honesty, integrity and competence. Finding excuses or adopting escapism can bring harm in this world and a penalty in the Hereafter.

Like many other parts of the world, Britain is going through a phase lacking in ethical and competent leadership. People are confused, frustrated and worried; some are angry. Nativist (White) nationalism in many western countries, with a dislike or even hatred of minority immigrant people (particularly Muslims and Jews), is on the rise. This is exacerbated through lowering religious literacy, widespread mistrust and an increase in hateful rhetoric being spread on social media. As people’s patience and tolerance levels continue to erode, this can bring unknown adverse consequences.

The positive side is that civil society groups with a sense of justice are still robust in most developed countries. While there seem to be many Muslims who love to remain in the comfort zone of their bubbles, a growing number of Muslims, particularly the youth, are also effectively contributing towards the common good of all.

As social divisions are widening, a battle for common sense and sanity continues. The choice of Muslims (particularly those that are socially active), as to whether they would proactively engage in grass-roots civic works or social justice issues along with others, has never been more acute. Genuine steps should be taken to understand the dynamics of mainstream society and improve their social engagement skills.

From history, we learn that during better times, Muslims proactively endeavoured to be a force for good wherever they went. Their urge for interaction with their neighbours and exemplary personal characters sowed the seeds of bridge building between people of all backgrounds. No material barrier could divert their urge for service to their Qawm and their Ummah. This must be replicated and amplified.

Although Muslims are some way away from these ideals, focusing on two key areas can and should strengthen their activities in the towns and cities they have chosen as their home. This is vital to promote a tolerant society and establish civic roots. Indifference and frustration are not a solution.

Muslim individuals and families

  1. Muslims must develop a reading and thinking habit in order to prioritise their tasks in life, including the focus of their activism. They should, according to their ability and available opportunities, endeavour to contribute to the Qawm and Ummah. This should start in their neighbourhoods and workplaces. There are many sayings of the Prophet Muhammad on one’s obligations to their neighbour; one that stands out – Gabriel kept advising me to be good to my neighbour so much that I thought he would ask that he (neighbour) should inherit me) – Sahih Al-Bukhari.
  2. They must invest in their new generation and build a future leadership based on ethics and professionalism to confidently interact and engage with the mainstream society, whilst holding firm to Islamic roots and core practices.
  3. Their Islah and dawah should be professionalised, effective and amplified; their outreach should be beyond their tribal/ethnic/sectarian boundaries.
  4. They should jettison any doubts, avoid escapism and focus where and how they can contribute. If they think they can best serve the Ummah’s cause abroad, they should do this by all means. But if they focus on contributing to Britain:
    • They must develop their mindset and learn how to work with the mainstream society to normalise the Muslim presence in an often hostile environment.
    • They should work with indigenous/European Muslims or those who have already gained valuable experience here.
    • They should be better equipped with knowledge and skills, especially in political and media literacy, to address the mainstream media where needed.

Muslim bodies and institutions

  • Muslim bodies and institutions such as mosques have unique responsibilities to bring communities together, provide a positive environment for young Muslims to flourish and help the community to link, liaise and interact with the wider society.
  • By trying to replicate the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah, they should try to make mosques real hubs of social and spiritual life and not just beautiful buildings. They should invest more in young people, particularly those with professional backgrounds. They should not forget what happened to many places where the Muslim presence was thought to be deep-rooted such as Spain.
  • It is appreciated that the first generation Muslims had to establish organisations with people of their own ethnic/geographical backgrounds. While there may still be a need for this for some sections of the community, in a post-7/7 Britain Muslim institutions must open up for others qualitatively and their workers should be able to work with all. History tells that living in your own comfort zone will lead to isolation.
  • Muslim bodies, in their current situation, must have a practical 5-10 year plan, This will bring new blood and change organisational dynamics. Younger, talented, dedicated and confident leadership with deep-rooted Islamic ideals is now desperately needed.
  • Muslim bodies must also have a 5-10 year plan to encourage young Muslims within their spheres to choose careers that can take the community to the next level. Our community needs nationally recognised leaders from practising Muslims in areas such as university academia, policy making, politics, print and electronic journalism, etc.

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#Current Affairs

Seyran Ates, A Sixty-Eighter In Islamic Camouflage

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By Dr Mohammad Usman Rana

In their orientalist enthusiasm to reform Islam, in the sense of reconciling Islam with the always changing ideas and goals of liberal values, Western European liberals and neo-atheists are searching high and low for persons who may serve as Muslim alibies for their project. For many years Ayaan Hirsi Ali was given this role but now the relay baton has been handed over to the German-Turkish activist Seyran Ates.

Does not believe in religion

Ates is of current interest in Norway because her book by the Norwegian title Islam trenger en seksuell revolusjon (Islam needs a sexual revolution, originally published in German in 2011)* was just released in Norwegian translation. Ates is well-known primarily because Western media have hailed her as a freedom fighter among Muslims since she opened a so-called liberal mosque in Berlin in 2017 and titled herself a female imam.

Obviously, Ates is part and parcel of an essential debate about the future of Muslims in Europe as it is a fact that a lot of traditional mosques in Western Europe have a big job to do in order to become more relevant to young Muslims, that is, more inclusive and adapted to a European context. Not least the issue of women’s rights is rightfully important to many people in the Muslim world, whether they are liberals or conservatives. In the midst of all the praise, Ates receives in Western media one essential question is however forgotten: What Islamic credibility does Ates have? In line with postmodern nihilism where concepts, ideas, and identities are emptied of meaning and content, the fact is ignored that Ates in her book points out that she believes in God but not in religions. She has no Islamic theological education and explains that she has recently started taking courses in Islamic studies and Arabic in order to be more credible among Muslims.

This is not only the case with Ates. It is a general weakness of so-called progressive and liberal Islam (reformers) that the movement lacks a foundation of religious and theological structure; it is rather founded on personalities with a political mission.

More journalists than worshippers

In her book about Islam needing a sexual revolution, Ates applauds European Christians’ dissociation from the church after 1968. Paradoxically, she later opened a mosque for Muslims. Further, she praises secularly thinking individuals as the most honourable people.

This is why the question should be raised whether the mosque, the imam title, and other religious references are just an Islamic camouflage for what can be understood as a political secularisation, assimilation and liberalisation project by Ates and her supporters. Due to the missing religious credibility and seriousness of this commitment, it should come as no surprise that it has little appeal to European and German Muslims.

When the New York Times visited the mosque, its journalists reported that there were more journalists than worshippers present. She has, on the other hand, a strong appeal among extreme right-wing anti-Muslim thinkers and movements in Europe. It is noteworthy that Ates received a solidarity claim from the extreme anti-Islam German AfD party, and has been praised by the infamous anti-Muslim blog of “Human Rights Service” in Norway.

The positive development aspect is missing

Why should German and European Muslims listen to an activist who attacks the fundamental principles of Islam and in her book paints a stereotypical image of the world’s Muslims?

There is no denying that Ates addresses a number of important challenges for Muslim women. Still, her arguments become oversimplified when she confuses female-hostile habits in the East with Islam and completely forgets the positive development today’s Muslim women in Europe experience where they, as opposed to their mothers’ generation, receive a university education, have a career, and choose whom they want to marry.

Seyran Ates’ project is not about a necessary contextualisation of Islam’s holy texts in a European reality, maintaining the characterisations of the region. The project is rather about a total change of Islam. In her book, Ates justifies such a change by creating strawmen with sweeping generalisations about Muslims. She, for instance, writes that ‘it is a fact that Muslim men have a considerable problem with our free world’, and that ‘Islamic politicians do not distinguish between religion and politics’ – without mentioning the widespread authoritarian secular tradition in Muslim countries in modern times such as in Turkey and Baathism in Syria and Iraq.

Less sexual restraint

Ates’ main argument in Islam needs a sexual revolution is that Muslim men and women are sexually oppressed because sexuality is defined as a blessing and source of love only within – and not outside of – the frames of marriage. The rule of intimate relationships being reserved for marriage meets with unison agreement from Muslims from different schools of thought; Ates, however, absurdly calls it an expression of “fundamentalist” Islam. In this view, Seyran Ates disagrees with the well-known American feminist Naomi Wolf who, after having travelled in Muslim countries, believes that this marital channelling of intimacy, in fact, strengthens sexuality and family ties at the same time.

The German-Turkish author wants less sexual restraint, more promiscuity and a liberal attitude to nakedness, in line with the ideals of the sixty-eighters. Seyran Ates praises the sixty-eighters’ revolution as an ideal for Muslims. Although the #metoo campaign, which can be said to have brought to light the negative consequences of the sexual revolution, was released after Ates’ book was published, it makes her attitudes to this revolution seem somewhat doubtful. The heritage of the sixty-eighters is not only freedom and equality but also the breaking up of the family as well as selfishness and decadence. It is also ironical that someone like Ates, who claims religious credibility, calls attention to Alfred Kinsey, the atheist sexologist who believed in open relationships, as a model for Muslims.

Public pillory

Ates’ book is mainly about freedom, a personal freedom in the name of value liberalism and sixtyeighters. A well-known American intellectual, Patrick Deenen from the University of Notre Dame, however, criticises such a perception of the concept of freedom believing we should ask ourselves if freedom can really be defined as human beings pursuing their instincts more or less uncritically. Deenen maintains that human beings are then in effect unfree and slaves of their instincts, while real freedom is achieved if we manage to free ourselves from being governed by human appetites.

Seyran Ates and her non-Muslim supporters seem to have no understanding at all of such a definition of the concept of freedom. Even more problematic is that they want to make their sixty-eighters’ liberal values absolute, believing Muslims must adhere to them if they wish to belong to modern society. Harvard professor Adrian Vermeule calls this form of liberalism aggressive because it only tolerates itself and no differences of opinion. It maintains its rituals in the form of checkpoints of ‘correct’ opinions in particular about sexuality, gender, and identity. Disagreeing with this can result in reprisals in the form of public pillory or even legal steps.

Obsessed with removing the hijab

When Muslims are met with such absolute-making of liberal values it is like an extension of colonial cultural imperialism when French and British colonial masters wanted to westernise Muslim populations, believing it was the only way of making them civilised. Some of them were obsessed with removing Muslim women’s hijabs, just as Seyran Ates is. The British consul general in Egypt, Lord Cromer, was a representative of this view. He wanted to free Muslim women from the hijab while at home in the UK he was ardently against feminism and women’s suffrage (source: Ahmed, Leila (1992). Women and Gender in Islam. New Haven: Yale University Press).

Worth noting is also that extensive surveys by Gallup Coexist Index among West-European Muslims show that they are far more religious than the majority population. Similar findings in relation to Norwegian Muslims were made by Bushra Ishaq in her book Hvem snakker for oss? (Who speaks for us?) from 2017. Considering these figures, it would be utopian as well as illiberal to expect Muslims to opt for a liberal values morality. On the contrary, it should be expected that religious European Muslims understand their religious practice as belonging to a Western context, that they value equality and that they support the liberal state governed by rule of law that actually allows people to live according to liberal as well as conservative norms of value.

*The original German-language version of the book, Der Islam braucht eine sexuelle Revolution: Eine Streitschrift, was published in 2011

Dr Mohammad Usman Rana is a Norwegian columnist, author and a commentator on Islam

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