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Uyghurs in China: We Buried the Quran in Our Backyards

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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.

east-turkestan-map-uyghurcongress.org

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.

turani-1

“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.

 

uyghur

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.

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Hena Zuberi is the Editor in Chief of Muslimmatters.org. She leads the DC office of the human rights organization, Justice For All, focusing on stopping the genocide of the Rohingya under Burma Task Force, advocacy for the Uighur people with the Save Uighur Campaign and Free Kashmir Action. She was a Staff Reporter at the Muslim Link newspaper which serves the DC Metro. Hena has worked as a television news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia and World Television News. 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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Civil Rights

Podcast: The Unfinished Business of Martin Luther King | Imam Zaid Shakir

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Our Muslim community is one whose existence, contrary to popular misconception, is predicated on the establishment of peace.

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The New Scramble For Africa

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

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

African mines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is this law all about?

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

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

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

Why the uproar?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Police brutality against protesters

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

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

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

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

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

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

India’s secular ethos

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

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

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

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

India’s faltering economy and dejected youth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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