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OpEd: King, Ramadan, Establishment Hostility, and the Echoes of History

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By El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan

The year was November 1964. Personal indiscretions of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the form of extramarital affairs, came to the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation through the agency’s illegal surveillance protocol – part of a practice that would later be known as COINTELPRO. The FBI would use that information in its attempt to destroy Dr. King. They almost succeeded.

What follows is the opening paragraph of the FBI’s transcript of the letter sent to Dr. King on that fateful day in 1964. (The letter was camouflaged as coming from another ‘Negro leader’ in the movement. It encouraged Dr. King to commit suicide as the only way out of the shame that would come his way once his infidelities were publicly divulged!)

“King: In view of your low grade, abnormal personal behavior I will not dignify your name with either a Mr. or a Reverend or a Dr. And, your last name calls to mind only the type of King such as King Henry the VIII and his countless acts of adultery and immoral conduct lower than that of a beast.”

To say that this poison pen letter was all downhill from there would be an understatement. This is how the final paragraph read:

“King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is… There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”

This ended up being a very dark and depressing period for Dr. King and his family. However, because Martin Luther King, Jr., was essentially a good man – a man of faith, and a man who despite his indiscretions both loved and was committed to his family, and his mission – with the forgiving support of his wife, Coretta Scott King, he successfully fought through the darkness of that period to grow into the most impactful period of his short life; with the most challenging and significant year being April 1967 – April 1968!

Now we come to Dr. Tariq Ramadan, a man with decades of service to his faith community and to the community-at-large. In October 2017, Dr. Ramadan was formally accused of raping a “feminist activist” by the name of Henda Ayari in a Paris hotel in 2012; shortly thereafter another woman came forth with a similar charge of rape in a hotel room in Lyon (southeastern France) in October 2009. Then there was a third woman (who would later have her charges dismissed).

It is important to note that these accusations were publicly made in the immediate aftermath of the official launch of the #MeToo Movement of 2017, and thus, acquired immediate socio-political currency. It is also worth noting that in the yearlong investigation that ensued, there has been no evidence of rape in either of these cases! However, there has been evidence of illicit affairs, which I accept are morally reprehensible offenses unworthy of a religious scholar.

However, as a result of the consensual skeletons found in this internationally renowned Muslim scholar’s closet, not only do we have an assortment of openly Islamophobic individuals and agencies within the French and broader European establishment calling for his isolation, there are a number of Muslims doing so as well. Is this prudent? Is this the morally correct thing to do? Who stands to gain from a permanently silenced Tariq Ramadan?

Of all the stellar accomplishments of the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. (and there were many), we remember him most for his courageous and extremely challenging stand against the Vietnam War. While he was excoriated for this principled stand throughout American mainstream society, from President Lyndon B. Johnson on down – and even many of his once close allies in the “Civil Rights Movement” distanced themselves from him in that final year of his life – he was on the right side of history. There is a monument in downtown Washington, DC, between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials to prove it!

Dr. Ramadan (like King) has acknowledged the errors made in his personal life. He too wants a chance to redeem himself and continue the work he’s been known for. On November 12th of this year, while still behind bars he wrote a piece of commentary titled, “Meditation, from behind and beyond the bars” – in which he stated:

“There were mistakes, errors. I do not deny anything, and nothing justifies them. I know and understand that some people are troubled, disappointed, and even angry. Some are inhabited by incomprehension, others treat it as treason. I understand this profoundly and I am sorry and sad.”

Ramadan further noted,

“In going through this ordeal, I returned to the center, inevitably: I was unfair to myself, as the Qur’an states, and the apparent paradox is that the injustice, both judicial and political, that I suffered, finally allowed me to do justice to my heart and to my being, spiritually.”

In Islam, as in other major religions, there is something called repentance (in Arabic, Tauba). Of this spiritually revitalizing process, Shaykh ibn Taymeeyah is reported to have said: “A catastrophe [of any type] that brings us closer to Allah is better for us than a blessing that causes us to forget the remembrance of Allah.”

Like Martin Luther King, post-1964, Tariq Ramadan has the potential to come out of this self-inflicted tragedy stronger and more impactful than before. It would go against the principles of Islam – in a time of great challenge for Muslims around the world – not to give him the opportunity to do so!

El-Hajj Mauri Saalakhan is a Metro-Washington, DC, based human rights advocate. He serves as Director of Operations for The Aafia Foundation, Inc.

 

Further Reading: Meditation, from behind and beyond the bars

On November 12, in prison, I wrote these thoughts. From the inside, for yesterday, for today, for tomorrow.

It’s late, it’s dark. Between the four walls of this cell. Silence. I am alone, I am not alone. I see images of my life, of my past. This long road that brought me to prison. Nothing happens by chance. I seek meaning, the lessons.

Growth. For this, one must face the facts; refuse to feel sorry for one’s fate, to accept one’s mistakes without looking for excuses. As the Qur’an says, “O you who bear faith, you are accountable for yourselves” (5/105).

There were old wounds, tears and defeats. There were mistakes, errors. I do not deny anything and nothing justifies them. 

I know and understand that some people are troubled, disappointed, and even angry. 

Some are inhabited by incomprehension, others treat it as treason. I understand this profoundly and I am sorry and sad.

In going through this ordeal, I returned to the center, inevitably: I was unfair to myself, as the Qur’an states, and the apparent paradox is that the injustice, both judicial and political, that I suffered, finally allowed me to do justice to my heart and to my being, spiritually. 

They wanted to stain me through the media, externally; but in reality, God offered me cleansing and resilience, internally and intimately. 

Some trials are blessings.

This experience is, and will be, my liberation.

I promise you that, insha’Allah, I will come out of it stronger.

For some of you, the challenge is a little different. It is important, with wisdom, to attach oneself to the Message, and not, emotionally, to the person; this is learned through difficulties and life’s suffering. This is how one can forgive and move on.

What does this message tell us today? First, we must remember that trials are reminders and spiritually, signs of love.

Then, human beings must beware of any definitive judgment: only God knows the facts and their meaning. 

Finally, one must remain upright, refuse injustices, and fight with dignity against lying accusations for one’s innocence, dignity, honor, right and freedom. To never let that go. 

It’s late. Silence. The heart calms down, confidence grows. Prayer. I am alone, I am not alone. We are not alone. Let’s do this!

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Spirituality

    December 26, 2018 at 5:35 PM

    As Salamu Alaikum,

    I found this article disturbing. The basic message I read from it is that if you are an activist doing great things in the world, then, sexual indiscretions are minor and should not be a big deal.

    This was not the attitude of the Prophet (s) and the Sahabah (RA). Yes, the door of repentance is always open, but Allah and his Prophet (s) are very clear in delineating zina for the grave sin it is.

    Zina is a big deal, and destroys families and societies. Activists who behave in such a manner maybe doing a great service to society on the political front while secretly poisoning that same society.

    Moral character and strong families are the building block of any society; and if these elements fall apart, I’m not sure all the political activism in the world will do much good.

    I think most of us are aware that sharia has a very strict code for admitted or proven adultery. I am not aware of leniency due to the fact that someone is a political activist doing great things in the world.

    And Allah knows best.

    • Avatar

      Ahmad

      December 27, 2018 at 12:54 AM

      @sheena khan; We fall into the trap indeed. Are you speaking for the Muslims? you are not speaking for the Muslims, you do not have the rights to tell the muslims what to do and who to listen.
      To @spirituality:
      There’s a Chinese proverb which says: “When a wise man is pointing out to the moon, the foolish is looking at the finger”. However, you mentioned the prophet pbuh and his companions. Guess what, the prophet was different, but do you know some of the companions made some mistakes? We read in the seerah. Now I’m inviting you to reread the article with open heart and open mind. Understand the nature of the article, the example he pointed out about Dr. King before he moved to Dr. Ramadan. The article is clear, read and understand, don’t just read to respond.

      • Avatar

        Sheema Khan

        December 27, 2018 at 8:04 PM

        Assalaamu alaikum,

        I repeat – the author of the article has accepted T Ramadan’s claim that the violence in these illicit affairs was consensual. The court cases have not come to any conclusion. It is premature to conclude his innocence of the very serious charges. Furthermore, if you follow the court proceedings over the past year, in detail, at every step of the way (until just last month), T. Ramadan has lied repeatedly, while accusing the plaintiffs of being pathological liars. He emphatically denied any physical contact with the three initial accusers. Then provided dozens of texts/images to prove that he had a consensual affair with one of them – a high-priced escort. He provided a false itinerary to provide an alibi in one of the other cases. The organizers of that conference testified under oath that the itinerary had been changed, and that they had physically picked him up at the airport and brought him to the hotel during early afternoon – thus destroying the “alibi”. I could go on and on, how during 99.5% of the court proceedings, he lied, under oath, denied, accused, etc. And now, all of a sudden, we are to believe him as a man of truth.

        Yes, we are all in need of Allah’s mercy, and must always do tauba. But it should be done in seclusion, in private, in sincerity. And with the awareness that in the eyes of many, he has lost all credibility.

        The issue is not just about T. Ramadan, but about two French women who claim to have been violently raped; and a number of former female Swiss students who claim abuse. These issues have to be settled in a court of law. Too many are rushing to dismiss them.

        We have many, many women who suffer in silence after abuse from men in power. The #Metoo movement is giving a small impetus to stand up. I for one, will not dismiss these women’s claims. I have worked too long in the Muslim community to see the contempt that is directed at women. But that is another story.

      • Avatar

        Spirituality

        December 28, 2018 at 3:07 PM

        As Salamu Alaikum, Ahmad,

        I think we’ll have to agree to disagree!

        I do agree that the Sahabah made mistakes. Some even committed zina…

        However, when they admitted this to the Prophet (s), his verdict was that they should be executed by being stoned to death. This was their tauba…

        Note, their tauba is not something we should minimize, any more than their zina…in the case of one Sahabiyya, who was executed for adultery, the Prophet (s) specifically declared that her repentance was accepted.

        • Avatar

          Spirituality

          December 28, 2018 at 3:13 PM

          Here is what the Prophet (s) said about the Sahabiyya’s repentence:

          “…She has made such a repentance that if it were to be divided among seventy men of Medina, it would be enough. Have you found any repentance better than this that she sacrficed her life for Allah, the Majestic?”‘

          Amazing!

  2. Avatar

    Sheema Khan

    December 26, 2018 at 9:15 PM

    Assalaamu alaikum,

    What is so disturbing about this article is the complete acceptance of T. Ramadan’s admission that these relationships were consensual. A trial is to take place. At least 2 women in France and others in Switzerland allege non-consensual violent rape. These are very serious charges. I will not dismiss these accusations – I will wait for the trials to conclude. Also – hypocrisy is one of the greatest sins in Islam. T Ramadan, professor in Islamic Ethics at a University in Qatar. Yes, as a Muslim, I will no longer believe a word he says, and warn others to stay away. In our faith, words must match deeds.

  3. Avatar

    Mr ab

    December 30, 2018 at 9:17 PM

    It is simple. Zina is Zina and if he was in Acheh that would be the end of him. The fact he has a brand name is insignificant. For even Adam a prophet had to compensate for an error of disobedience. A public apology does not equate to an apology from god. And if god forgave him or not is not up to us to decide. God has his laws. If everytime we would selectively chose mercy just because this or that man came with a brand name then.. Many Muslim women who have been killed in the name of honor killing would remain alive today. We live in a society where there is no shariah law. Sentimental as it is the shariah is clear as day and shouldn’t be applied selectively just for sentimental reasons. Because we do not live in such times.. HE JUST HAS TO DEAL WITH THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION. And may he serve as a lesson to all other Muslim men who intend to harm their families and the entire community with their licentiousness.

  4. Avatar

    Basil

    January 1, 2019 at 11:31 PM

    My my, our community is full of double standards. We host, recognize, and celebrate non-Muslim public figures at our fundraising events and our masajid, never inquiring about their (often very public) un-Islamic behavior. But let’s burn Tariq Ramadan at the stake. One does not have to condone Dr. Ramadan’s moral failures. Nevertheless, he’s still entitled to justice and the presumption of innocence (from a criminal standpoint), unless one feels Muslims should be punished by Western courts for adultery. The rest is between Ramadan, his family, and Our Creator. In the meantime, perhaps the holier-than-thou Muslims in the West should stop claiming Muhammad Ali as our hero, and stop quoting MLK in our interfaith gatherings…and stop voting for adulterous politicians.

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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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#Current Affairs

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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