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Climate Change And The Water Crisis : A Muslim Responsibility

Abu Ryan Dardir

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When we think of water, we don’t initially think of life, nor do we think of our deen.

The Quran mentions how all life is made of water:

أَوَلَمْ يَرَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ كَانَتَا رَتْقًا فَفَتَقْنَاهُمَا ۖ وَجَعَلْنَا مِنَ الْمَاءِ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ حَيٍّ ۖ أَفَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ

“Do not those who disbelieve see that the heavens and the Earth were meshed together then We ripped them apart? And then We made of water everything living? Would they still not believe?” [Surah Anbiya;30]

This was declared over 1400 years ago, long before it was confirmed by modern science. Science tells us that the average human body of an infant is close to 80% water, and for an adult it is approximately 60%. That is why it is considered the most valuable resource to any human being. The reason why for this valuable resource, people are willing to flee their lands, wage war, or buy out land and resources. Major companies have been doing this for decades.

The ecosystems were developed with such perfection in terms of balance, that one disruption by man can alter it permanently.

“Protoplasm is the basis of all living matter, and ‘the vital power of protoplasm seems to depend on the constant presence of water’” [Lowsons’ Text-book of Botany, Indian Edition.  London 1922, p. 23]. Imagine then how the protoplasm would be impacted if water was contaminated or gone?

وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَكُمْ خَلَائِفَ الْأَرْضِ وَرَفَعَ بَعْضَكُمْ فَوْقَ بَعْضٍ دَرَجَاتٍ لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آتَاكُمْ ۗ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ سَرِيعُ الْعِقَابِ وَإِنَّهُ لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“And it is He (God) who has made you successors (khala’ifa) upon the Earth and has raised some of you above others in degrees [of rank] that He may try you through what He has given you. Indeed, your Lord is swift in penalty; but indeed, He is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Surah Al-An’am:165]

We look at the obvious sins, such as murder, adultery, lying, and stealing, not realizing what the duty is upon us. We are oblivious because we choose to ignore the impacts and the side effect of such actions. It was that important, that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentioned it in the Quran, to remind us, and for us to reflect on it.

In another verse:

إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الْأَمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَن يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الْإِنسَانُ ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا

“Indeed, We (God) offered the Trust to the heavens and the Earth and the mountains, and they declined to bear it and feared it; but man [undertook to] bear it. Indeed, he was unjust and ignorant” [Surah Al-Ahzab;72]

We took on the responsibility and now have to deal with the consequences. Homo sapien is the latin name of our species, its literal translation is “Man Wise”. How wise could we be to hurt ourselves in this world and the next? Our ignorance is overshadowed by our arrogance.

We need to hold onto this precious resource and be conservative in its use and care. With severe climate changes happening, it is a matter of time before droughts, famine, and even civil strife reach critical points. We have not upheld our trust of the water that was left to us.

Our oceans and rivers are contaminated to levels humanity has never seen before. Mercury levels are high, not just making water unsafe to drink, but harming wildlife and oceanic ecosystems in the process. When life in the ocean is gone, life on Earth won’t last much longer. Plastic compounds fill our oceans and sea life, filling the stomachs of fish and birds.

Climate change is real and it isn’t going away

It impacts water, which impacts livelihood. It can cause war, as it has in our past and present. The world’s earliest documented water war happened 4,500 years ago, when the armies of Lagash and Umma, city-states near the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, battled with spears and chariots after Umma’s king drained an irrigation canal leading from the Tigris. “Enannatum, ruler of Lagash, went into battle,” reads an account carved into an ancient stone cylinder, and “left behind 60 soldiers [dead] on the bank of the canal,” according to a Smithsonian Article from 2013. Between 2003 and 2009 water was measured at the Tigris-Euphrates Basin; comprising of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and western Iran. They discovered that the bodies of water are the fastest losing bodies of water on the planet after Northern India. This has caused thousands of rural residents that relied on farmland, to relocate to urban area, making them more densely populated. This puts considerable pressure on the economy and, in turn, strains the political climate which is often a precursor to uprisings and war. Some might see this connection as an exaggeration, but it is myopic to see these issues as separate entities, and by treating them as such we further demonstrate our arrogance.

We may start to create water treaties to avoid similar scenarios in the near future. The world’s first international water treaty, a cuneiform tablet now hanging in the Louvre, ended the war between Lagash and Umma. We can explore further west and see how Egypt built the dam and relocated the Nubians, or the ramifications of the drought in South Sudan. We can even look here at home in the Western parts of America and how the Colorado River was suffering a drought that lasted many years, that just ended recently.

Recently, researchers at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia have found that the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region might be uninhabitable by 2050. May of 2016 was the 11th month in a row of average record temperatures. The situation becomes more and more dire for the people residing in those regions. As temperature increases, water becomes scarcer which equates to less vegetation and less food overall. People will retaliate and civil strife will manifest.

Some examples of water wars or water crises are directly caused by the ignorant interference of man, and that is a major sin. As narrated by Abu HurairaraḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

“The Prophetṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, ‘There are three types of people whom Allahsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will neither talk to, nor look at, on the Day of Resurrection. (They are): 1. A man who takes an oath falsely that he has been offered for his goods so much more than what he is given. 2. A man who takes a false oath after the ‘Asr prayer in order to grab a Muslim’s property, and 3. A man who withholds his superfluous water. Allahsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will say to him, Today I will withhold My Grace from you as you withheld the superfluity of what you had not created.” [Bukhari;2370]

Think of countries withholding it from citizens, or corporations looting poor countries of their water. Corporations like Nestle or Coca Cola. They see the economic value of water and deprive natives of it for consumers of their products. The list of cities fighting Nestle through protesting, boycotting, and legally are growing. From San Bernardino to Ontario and many small towns in between. What is your socio-economic role in this? What is your role as a Muslim, who was sent us a steward to take care of this amaanah (trust)? Do not belittle your business with any company, or miss the value of your consumerism with said companies.

We take unsung heroes for granted. I can’t think of any group of people that has a better chance of saving us than women. Yes women! Because what needs to be implemented is more of a cultural change, and women have the authority to make that change. The burden is not on them, it is on all of us.

“A man came to the Prophetṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and said: ‘O Messenger of God! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship?’ The Prophetṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: ‘Your mother.’ The man said, ‘Then who?’ The Prophetṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: ‘Then your mother.’ The man further asked, ‘Then who?’ The Prophetṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: ‘Then your mother.’ The man asked again, ‘Then who?’ The Prophetṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: ‘Then your father.'”[Bukhari, Muslim]

Aren’t our mothers companionship and love worth the extra effort?

When Prophet Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) left Sayida Hajer in the desert with Ismael'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), and the water sprouted from under his foot, who then was in charge of that water? That water that created a civilization, that eventually became the the city where Islam started. Makkah started with water, the water of Zam Zam.

The Prophetṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was reported to have told one of his wives, Ai’shahraḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him): “The day you give water to people out of charity, and especially if it is the time when people are in dire need of water, or during the dry season when people are greatly suffering from scarcity of water, you will have the reward of one who sets a slave-girl free.” [Ahmed]

It is the women that walk miles in developing countries to fetch water for their children; they understand its value, they appreciate its purpose. Over 1.1 billion people lack access to clean water which is about ⅙ of the world population. Half of the children born in the developing world will live in homes that do not have accessibility to an improved water and sanitation system. This in turn will greatly increase the chances of  their survival and development. With that type of situation, 1.5 million children under five die every year because of diarrhoeal diseases alone. Ensuring that our brothers and sisters in all parts of the world have easy access to safe drinking water is our responsibility as Muslims.

An-Nu’man ibn Basheer reported: The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.” [Bukhari;5665 and 2586]

Based on hadith narrated by the Prophet’sṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) wife, Ai’sharaḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), the women in my life, and the ones I read about, I feel that they have a greater awareness of the surrounding environment, and are able to convince others in their community of its importance. There are grassroots all over the world led by women and are extremely prosperous. Launched in Kenya on Earth Day in 1977, The Green Belt Movement was one of the first efforts to incorporate the links between gender and natural resources within a grassroots environmental campaign – in this case, by mobilizing women to plant indigenous trees.

Since its inception, the Movement has created a national network of 6,000 village nurseries, designed to combat creeping desertification, restore soil health and protect water catchment areas. About 20 million trees have been planted by the Movement’s 50,000 women members. This is a great way to empower women. This is a great initiative to empower the largest oppressed group in the world. How is someone so valued by their children, oppressed all over the world, at different levels, in this day and age? That is something for us to ponder, and lose sleep over.

The world in which we reside is a trust bestowed upon us for future generations. We seem too distracted with many global issues to focus on water and how we impact our environment. Before this topic is pushed aside for the latest breaking news story, or a trendy new cause, consider this: would these stories and causes matter if there is no Earth to sustain us?

From my experience, true peace, true harmony, comes from working together to save our homes, our resources, and the natural environment.  When we solve our environmental issues, a lot of our worldly issues will be alleviated. Less demand and fighting over oil, more accessibility to clean water, abundance of food distributed to the hungry, and an equal opportunity for all humans to succeed.

Dardir has recently completed his first Masters specializing in chemistry and his second in Educational Leadership. He is currently enrolled as a student in Mishkah pursuing a bachelors in Islamic Studies. He is working at the WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) as an educational advisor. He is the founder and Chief Coordinator of the non-profit organization The Building Blocks of New Jersey whose mission is: “To aid self development, promote activism, and bolster community building”

 

Dardir has completed two masters in education. He is currently enrolled as a student in Mishkah pursuing a bachelors in Islamic Studies. He is working at the WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) as an educational advisor. He is the founder and Chief Coordinator of the non-profit organization The Building Blocks of New Jersey whose mission is: “To aid self development, promote activism, and bolster community building”. He also consults and is a trustee at “Outreach on the Barrio” based in Houston, and Green Muslims based in Washington DC.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Abdulrazaq

    September 5, 2017 at 1:35 AM

    This is seldomly spoken about within our communities. May Allah bless you for reminding us.

  2. Avatar

    Abid

    September 6, 2017 at 12:26 PM

    ‘That water that created a civilization, that eventually became the the city where Islam started.’ Brother a little correction, Islam started with the first human being and not by Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)

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#Current Affairs

Malaysians Ask China To Free Uyghurs, Close The Camps

Hena Zuberi

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Free Uyghur Malaysia

By Gulnaz Uighur

Muslims are standing up for Uyghurs, protests held in Malaysia.

5th of July could be just like another day for people but for Uyghurs, it brings back dark memories of a bloody past. This day, in 2009, thousands of Uyghur students were massacred by Chinese police in Urumqi. These young students were demanding an investigation into the rising number of homicides in a toy factory. These people only wanted justice. They were also upset by the ongoing discrimination in the employment sector. Graduates were denied jobs because of their Uyghur ethnicity. After the protests, China started abducting the Uyghur youth and no one knows where the missing went. Its been 10 years since that horrifying incident and the condition of Muslims have devolved in a genocidal nightmare.

Communist Government in China Has over 2 Million Uyghurs in Concentration Camps

Beijing has now locked over 2 million Uyghurs in concentration camps. People in these places are forced to denounce Islam, forget the teachings of Quran, prohibited from praying, asked to learn Xi Jinping’s speech and tortured for not obeying these orders. Sadly, Islam is being treated as a disease in China and most of the Islamic nations are turning a blind eye to it.

So Malaysia came as a breath of fresh air when Muslim NGOs organized an anti-China protest against Uyghur persecution.

On 5th July 2019, a coalition of 34 Malaysian NGOs gathered outside the Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to protest the persecution of Uyghurs. The organizations prepared a memo of protest to be submitted to Chinese officials. In the memo, they demanded Beijing to ‘Respect the human rights of the Uyghur people, in particular, their right to life and freedom of religion and belief.’ , ‘immediately stop the persecution and extreme repression of the Uyghur people.’ and close the camps. They also called upon the International community to increase the voices of protest and disfavour upon the Chinese government and to work together to improve the situation for the Uyghur people through concrete actions.

The protesters shouted slogans like ‘Me Too Uyghur’ and ‘Save Uyghur’. In a media interview, president of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim), Mohamad Raimi Abdul Rahim asked immediate freedom for all those who have been detained in concentration camps.

Malaysians Stand With Uyghurs

Abim secretary Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz accused the Chinese government of concealing the plight of the Uyghurs by offering NGOs and government agencies free trips and painting a rosy picture of the camps. Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid, chairman of the Malaysian Consultative Council Of Islamic Organizations (Mapim), said the atrocities committed against the Uyghurs could not be denied or disguised. The Group of NGOs also included Ikram Association and the Malaysian Youth Council among others.

Though no Chinese official came out to accept the memo, the message was clear that now people won’t keep quiet about the Uyghur persecution. There is a dire need for Muslim countries to break their silence on this issue. There is enough evidence to prove that something unholy and inhumane is happening with Uyghurs. If these countries consider China their friend then ask it to stop being a Shaitan. The leaders must realize that their first duty is towards the Ummah and not towards China.

Now is the time to stand for Uyghurs before nothing is left to be saved.

This protest in  Malaysia has proved that people in Muslim countries do support Uyghurs even if their governments are silent and are upset with Beijing’s policies. This event proved that governments may fail to fight but people won’t.

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#Current Affairs

The Environmental Cost Of War With Iran

Abu Ryan Dardir

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war with Iran

Report after report shows how planet Earth may reach a point of no return. An analysis written by Ian Dunlop claims the planet cannot be saved by the mid-century if we continue on this path. And yet here we are marching towards a war with Iran.

When we think of climate change, we rarely think of war. On June 12th, 2019, Brown University released a report declaring the Department of Defence to be “the world’s largest institution to use petroleum and correspondingly, the single largest producer of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world.” Burning jet fuel for transportation of troops and weapons make up 70 percent of the Pentagon’s emissions.  Ironically, earlier this year the Pentagon released a 22-page report to Congress stating the ⅔ of their mission-essential installation in the US are vulnerable to flooding, and ½ are susceptible to wildfires. To no surprise, Trump rejected those findings at the time. The Pentagon is now concerned with the impact climate change has on their “foreign missions.”

war, iran, America, Climate change, pentagonWith tensions high with Iran, and several thousand troops are expected to be deployed, if war with Iran is to happen, it may lead us to a more damaged planet that may not recover. This makes the Pentagon guilty of killing people and the earth. The Department of Defense has consistently used between 77-80% of the entire US energy consumption. We see spikes during times of massive war (since America is in a constant state of war), like in 1991, 2001, and so on.

Here is a list of the seven significant sources of greenhouse emissions done by the Department of Defense:

  1. Overall military emissions for installations and non-war operations.
  2. War-related emissions by the US military in overseas contingency operations.
  3. Emissions caused by US military industry   — for instance, for production of weapons and ammunition.
  4. Emissions caused by the direct targeting of petroleum,   namely the deliberate burning of oil wells and refineries by all parties.
  5. Sources of emissions by other belligerents.
  6. Energy consumed by reconstruction of damaged and destroyed infrastructure.
  7. Emissions from other sources, such as fire suppression and extinguishing chemicals, including   Halon, a greenhouse gas, and from explosions and fires due to the destruction of non-petroleum targets in warzones.

This impact on the climate is just the portion from America, in the Iraq war, 37 countries fought alongside America, and 60 are allied against ISIS. There is a way to calculate those emissions as well.

The Rules of War

Before engaging in battle, the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) instructed his soldiers:

  1. Do not kill any child, any woman, or any elder or sick person. (Sunan Abu Dawud)
  2. Do not practice treachery or mutilation. (Al-Muwatta)
  3. Do not uproot or burn palms or cut down fruitful trees. (Al-Muwatta)
  4. Do not slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel, except for food. (Al-Muwatta)
  5. If one fights his brother, [he must] avoid striking the face, for God created him in the image of Adam. (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)
  6. Do not kill the monks in monasteries, and do not kill those sitting in places of worship. (Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal)
  7. Do not destroy the villages and towns, do not spoil the cultivated fields and gardens, and do not slaughter the cattle. (Sahih Bukhari; Sunan Abu Dawud)
  8. Do not wish for an encounter with the enemy; pray to God to grant you security; but when you [are forced to] encounter them, exercise patience. (Sahih Muslim)
  9. No one may punish with fire except the Lord of Fire. (Sunan Abu Dawud).
  10. Accustom yourselves to do good if people do good, and not to do wrong even if they commit evil. (Al-Tirmidhi)

A verse in the Holy Qur’an

4:75 (Y. Ali) And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!”

How does this potential war against Iran play into all this?

Our first call to action is to organize an anti-war rally. This type of work is weak in America, and virtually non-existent within the Muslim community.

فَقَالَ أَبُو سَعِيدٍ أَمَّا هَذَا فَقَدْ قَضَى مَا عَلَيْهِ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ مَنْ رَأَى مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُنْكِرْهُ بِيَدِهِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الإِيمَانِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ ‏.‏

Abu Sa’eed said: ‘As for this, he has fulfilled what is upon him. I heard the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) saying: ‘Whoever among you sees an evil, then let him stop it with his hand. Whoever is not able, then with his tongue, and whoever is not able, then with his heart. That is the weakest of faith.”‘

War with Iran will be a Greater Mistake than War with Iraq

Historically, anti-war sentiment in America has grown over the years. When the Iraq war first started only 23% thought it was a mistake, today it is close to 60% that believe the war is a mistake. Yes, this is in hindsight, but that it is also growth. The reason the anti-war movement is feeble in America is that there is no platform for the campaign to grow. Both parties are guilty of starting wars or taking over the wars from the past administration. Whether we do it alone as an individual or as a group, we should do everything we can as privileged members of this planet to save and protect those that can’t defend themselves.

There is a famous quote of the famed boxer Muhammad Ali when explaining why he wasn’t fighting in the war. He said, “…I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would put my prestige in jeopardy and could cause me to lose millions of dollars which should accrue to me as the champion.”

Fighting Earth

With that said, there is a significant interest in the region for more than just fuel and resources. It is truly a problem, our operations in the Gulf is to address our dependency on Persian oil, and the fuel that is used to address our dependence is to protect those resources and access to them. One estimate is that America spends $81 billion annually defending the global oil supply. They do this because the DOD feels its dependency will make it vulnerable on a larger scale.

In 1975 America decided to take away the fear of losing the resources and developed the “Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” and in 1978, they created the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF). Their only purpose was to defend US interest in the Middle East. This, in turn, leads to extractivism of resources and supplies. (Which will be explained in a future article).

This war can be the end of all wars as it can accelerate us to the point of no return in regards to climate change.

A war with Iran is a war with Earth and all who live on it.

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5 Quick Things Americans Can Do For Uyghurs Today

Abu Ryan Dardir

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“I may die, but let it be known that my nation will continue their struggle so long the world continues to exist.” Kazakh leader Uthman Batur. He said these words as Chinese authorities executed him for resisting the communist occupation. Currently, China has, one million Uyghurs (Uighurs), Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities held in concentration camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) (East Turkistan) in northwestern China.

Their struggle surpasses the 10 or so years since we have become aware of it. Just like the Rohingya genocide, we waited till the last minute. We are always late and say, “Never Again.” It happens again and again.

In my lifetime, there have been horrendous genocides that could have been prevented to stopped. As a child, I remember Rwanda in the headlines, then a year later Bosnian genocide. Then we hear these demonic stories after the fact. I remember stories from survivors from Bosnia, and thinking to myself, “How are you here and functioning?”

Let us not be fooled to why this is happening now. It is related to economic advantages. The Chinese government’s present signature foreign policy initiative is the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) that seeks to connect the PRC economically to the rest of the Eurasian continent through massive infrastructure projects that will stimulate international trade. The western and south-western components of the BRI require the XUAR to serve as a transportation and commercial hub to trade routes and pipelines that will join China with Central and South Asia, the Middle East, and the entirety of Europe. As a result, the XUAR has become an important strategic region for the Chinese, and the state views its indigenous populations as an obstacle to developing its vision for this future critical center of international commercial networks.1

The expansion of their trade route also ties in Iran hence the sanctions placed, but that’s a different report for a different time. China, of course, has defended their actions by claiming its an anti-terrorism plan. Getting reliable information is hard. China has made it a point to make things difficult for reporters. Yanan Wang, a China-based journalist from the Associated Press, has reported extensively on and from Xinjiang.

In a ceremony at Asia Society on Tuesday commemorating AP’s 2019 Osborn Elliott Award for Excellence in Journalism on Asia, Wang described the subtle ways government minders worked to thwart her reporting: “(Both of the times we went there we arrived at the airport, we had a welcoming committee from the local authorities. They’re always very polite and professional. They say that “you’ve arrived in Xinjiang and we’re here to assist you in your reporting. Tell us what you’re working on so we can help you.” They offer us drives in their car and plenty of hospitality.

Basically, from the moment we arrive, we’re followed by at least one car. There are a bunch of interesting scenarios that we came across. You can see that the local handlers are trying hard to be professional. They are members of the propaganda department, so they’re PR professionals. They don’t want to make it appear like it’s so stifling. At one point, we were taking photos, and someone suddenly appeared on the scene to say he was a “concerned citizen.” He said he’d seen us taking photos and that it was an infringement of his privacy rights. He had this long monologue about privacy rights and about how it wasn’t right for us to take photos of him without his knowledge. We asked him, “Well, where are you in these photos?” and he’d go through all of them. He said we had to delete all of them. He’d say, “This is my brother,” or “This is my place of work, you have to delete it.”

They had all of these interesting tactics to work around the idea that they were trying to obstruct our reporting and make it appear that someone who claims to be a concerned citizen.)”2

On top of that, locals that talk to journalist are punished, sometimes go missing.

I decided to do something this time around; I got in touch with an Uyghur community near my residence to see how an individual could help. It started at a Turkic restaurant, and from there, I have been involved in whatever capacity I am able. Through this effort, I got in touch with a Turkic professor in Turkey who has students stranded as they are cut off from contacting family back in Xinjiang. He helps them out financially; my family and friends help with what they can.

As Muslims in the West, there is no doubt we should act. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith” (Muslim).

How Can You Help Uyghurs

Here are a few things you can do to help:

1. Ask Congress to pass To pass S.178 & H.R.649 Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. Urge your senator and representative to support this cause. It has been introduced. This bill can help the Uyghur community to be treated like Tibetans (another region oppressed by China).

2. Stay informed. The mainstream media is not the place to get accurate information on the situation. Be skeptical of where the data is coming from, stick to reliable sources that are verified. As mentioned above, journalists find it difficult to report.

3. Donate to Uyghur Human Rights Organizations to end concentration camps: UHRP, Uyghur American Association  Donate to Awareness Campaigns: Save Uigur Campaign 

4. Boycott or reduce buying Made in China products

5. Follow these links for updated information: facebook.com/Uyghur-Human-Rights-Project-227634297289994/ and facebook.com/ChinaMuslims

This crisis is an ethnic cleansing for profit. These are dark days as we value profit over people.

1.Statement by Concerned Scholars on mass detentions | MCLC …. https://u.osu.edu/mclc/2018/11/27/statement-by-concerned-scholars-on-mass-detention s/

2.Why It’s So Difficult for Journalists To Report From …. https://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/why-its-so-difficult-journalists-report-xinjiang

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