Rising China’s Muslim Problem:

Discussion in 'China' started by Ray, Nov 15, 2013.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    China Confiscates Muslims Passports

    HONG KONG—Authorities in northwestern China have begun confiscating the passports of Muslims, mostly ethnic Uyghurs, in an apparent bid to prevent them from making the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, local residents and officials say.

    An officer who answered the phone at the Tengritagh district public security bureau [police department] of the Xinjiang regional capital, Urumqi, said local residents were required to "register" their passports with local neighborhood committees, the basic building blocks of social control in China.

    “The authorities of local residential offices are collecting the passports,” he told RFA’s Uyghur service.

    “Local residential offices are collecting the passports in order to register them...The authorities will keep the passports for the public. If they want to go to other countries, they can come to fetch their passports. The authorities will give the passports back to them accordingly.”

    I think the word is that it is to prevent some problems, like preventing people from going on the Hajj pilgrimage. So, that is why they are collecting,

    Officials working together

    “The [passports] will become invalid if they do not hand them in.”

    An official at a neighborhood committee in a town near the city of Kashgar confirmed the move, adding that passports were being collected only from Muslims, especially the Uyghur people.

    “Today is the 18th,” the official said. “We were told to collect them within five days, and we've just started this afternoon ... the Muslims' and the Uyghur people's passports.”

    “I think the word is that it is to prevent some problems, like preventing people from going on the Hajj pilgrimage. So, that is why they are collecting [them],” the official said.

    He said local governments, provincial government, and the police were cooperating to accomplish the task.

    Here what's happened. They've ordered us to collect all the passports within five days and the authorities will finish investigating and registering the passports within 20-odd days. The authorities are not only collecting a few people's passports...They are collecting all the passports. We do not really know what is happening in other parts of Xinjiang,” he added.

    “Every Muslim who owns a passport must hand it to the authorities.”

    On June 19, the Tengritagh News Web site printed an article titled "Tightening the Pilgrimage Policy and Protecting the Public,” which carried a report on a speech by Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Party chief Wang Lequan the previous day to religious leaders from the Bureau of Religious Administration.

    Wang called on the government to tighten its pilgrimage policy and to harshly punish "illegal" pilgrimage organizers. He said the government should halt underground pilgrimage activities and either restructure the current pilgrimage policy or make new pilgrimage policy.

    The Xinjiang authorities began to confiscate passports immediately following the speech.

    All able-bodied Muslims are expected to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, birthplace and holy city of Islam, once in a lifetime if they can afford it. Additional pilgrimages are recommended.

    With around 2 million Muslims making the pilgrimage annually, airlines and operators offer specialized Hajj packages. This year’s Hajj will begin Dec. 18, so the passport registration drive comes just as people would start to think about booking tickets.

    RFA’s Uyghur service was contacted initially by Uyghurs overseas who said their parents’ passports had been taken, making them unable to join them on the pilgrimage.

    The Hajj is traditionally undertaken with family, or with fellow pilgrims from a local mosque, and would constitute a deep show of unity for any group making the pilgrimage together.

    Uyghurs, who number more than 16 million, constitute a distinct, Turkic-speaking, Muslim minority in northwestern China and Central Asia. They declared a short-lived East Turkestan Republic in Xinjiang in the late 1930s and 40s but have remained under Beijing's control since 1949.

    China Confiscates Muslims Passports

    *********************************************

    Tough on the Muslim one must concede.

    Fortunately, such is not the case in many other countries.
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Rather unfortunate since China very proudly claims that all are free to practice their own religion.

    The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China stipulates: “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religion. No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens because they do, or do not believe in religion. The state protects normal religious activities.”

    Maybe the key word is 'normal'.
     
  4. datguy79

    datguy79 Regular Member

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    Article is from 2007. Any new developments?
     
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Yes it is dated, but the plight has not changed.

    Read the thread on the Tienanmen crash.
     
  6. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    @datguy79


    Here is something dated 03/16/2013

    Rising China’s Muslim Problem: What is the Future of the Uygurs? (Alimglu)

    JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary interviews MUSA ALIMGLU:

    This week I asked a China and Xinjiang expert — someone who is familiar with China’s ethnic politics and the work of prominent Uyghur human rights activist Rebiya Kadeer — to provide some in-depth background on China’s troubled Xinjiang Uygher Autonomous Republic and leadership challenges for the Uyghur diaspora.

    This Hui Chinese scholar, who goes by the name of Musa Alimglu (not his real name), has recently conducted several field investigations in Xinjiang into “Uyghur miseries” (from an economic and human rights standpoint) and has attempted in his research and in this interview to identify the major causes behind the underlying tension there between the Han and the Uyghur.

    As a Hui he said he feels “great sympathy towards the Uyghurs, not only because they are also Muslims but because they have been treated inhumanely by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), especially since the 1990s.”

    Q: How would you characterize the historical relationship between the Muslim Uyghurs, Hui people and the majority Han in China?

    A: The Hui and Uyghur have historical, ethnic, and religious ties. Before 1950s, the Chinese term “Hui” referred to both Uyghur and Hui. Many Hui in northwestern China today still use many Uyghur words and Hui religious orders have a close relationship with Kashgar and Yarkand, the two major Uyghur cities in Kashgaria. The major Hui ancestors came from Turkic Central Asia, which borders the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

    So it is no surprise that there are some Hui volunteer organizations in northwestern China that have special programs to help the Uyghurs, especially in eastern Xinjiang since it’s close to Hui-populated areas in northwestern China.

    The relationship between China’s Muslims and the Han (about 90% of China’s population) was in conflict — for at least 300 years from the 17th century to 20th century — as seen by various Muslim uprisings against Manchu-Han expansions, repressions, and massacres. After the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) conquered Kashgaria (in southern Xinjiang) in the 1750s , many Han officials, especially those who served in or came from Shandong, the home of Confucius and Confucianism, actively attacked the so-called alien religion of the Muslims (“Huijiao”, Islam).

    During the “Five-Peoples” Republican period (1911-1949), Muslims had better political status. At that time Mongol, Manchu, Muslim, Han, and Tibetans were the five major peoples of the Republic of China. Many national Muslim organizations participated not only in domestic politics but also in international diplomacy, and were active in trying to garner support from Islamic countries for China’s anti-Japanese wars.

    In China’s communist period (1949 to present), Muslims have had a complicated relationship with China. On the one hand, China created 10 so-called Muslim Minzu (nationalities) as part of a divide-and-rule political strategy, but on the other hand, Muslims and Islam itself were targeted as enemies of socialism and communism, especially during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). It was only after the 1980s that Muslims were allowed to practice Islam in a relatively liberal environment.

    Now, Muslims in China are facing a different situation, in the context of China’s rise, and Han nationalism (especially cultural nationalism) has begun to re-appear.

    At the same time, China’s “anti-terror” activities in the broader Central Asian region — including China-Pakistan and China-SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization or Shanghai 5) joint anti-terrorism military exercises that target groups like the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) — have made Islam and Islam-related affairs sensitive in China and especially so in Xinjiang.


    Also, both Western and Chinese media have mistakenly identified Muslims of China as Muslims of the Middle East and of Central Asia, which is problematic.

    The Muslim-Han relationship in China proper seems to be relatively peaceful. However, some basic rights that Chinese Muslims should have as Chinese citizens have been violated in other areas. The Hui in the Hui-populated northwestern provinces have little access to obtaining a Chinese passport and thus can’t go on hajj. Han cultural attacks on the Hui in various forms have been constant.

    In Xinjiang, the Uyghur Muslims’ situation has now begun to become known to the world. Their political, economic, and cultural rights are basically being denied, which I can elaborate on.

    Q: Why is there such tensions between the Han Chinese who make up an estimated 41% of the population of Xinjiang and the Uyghur population (43%) of Xinjiang? One only has to look at recent Radio Free Asia and other reports, to see the problems between the two are escalating…

    A: There are many reasons of course, let me mention several major ones:

    Ideologically, China’s Xinjiang policy (maybe Xinjiang’s Xinjiang policy) is the product of the WWI, WWII, the Cold War, and the anti-terror war. Xinjiang officials and official scholars today have highlighted the historical pan-Turkism and pan-Islamism in Xinjiang since the early 20th century. The temporary presence of the East Turkistan Republics (1930s and 1940s) is seen as the height of the Uyghur separatism. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the formation of Central Asian Turkic countries in the 1990s made the Chinese communist party worry about the possibility of the Uyghurs breaking away to form a “Uyghurstan.”

    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.

    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 Xinjiang, 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.

    Culturally, in this Han dominated economy and polity, it’s hard for the Uyghurs to compete or even to get a job since most Uyghurs in southern Xinjiang speak little of the Han language (Chinese Mandarin) and thus have no hope of getting a position in the government or state economic units. Plus because of their religious and racial differences, the Uyghurs have been both openly and covertly constrained and discriminated against.

    International and domestic political, ideological, economic, and cultural factors have resulted in tremendous misery for the Uyghurs, especially since the 1990s.

    Public Uyghur social gatherings and public observance of cultural traditions and religious practices have been prohibited, while Han language, education and patriotism have been highlighted.

    Uyghur representatives have been detained, arrested, sentenced, and even executed for alleged “separatist” or “terrorist” activities. Nobody knows the exact number of Uyghur political prisoners in Xinjiang today. Even Uyghurs who adopted foreign citizenship have been arrested in Central Asian countries and deported back to China.

    So it comes as no surprise that in late 1990s there were several open Uyghur protests that were followed by bloody suppression by China. The most famous open conflict between the Uyghurs and the Chinese government occurred on July 5, 2009 in which hundreds of Uyghurs were killed, arrested, and jailed.

    In contrast to the Uyghurs, the Hui in Xinjiang have been relatively successful economically. In Urumuqi proper and especially in Changji Hui Autonomous Region, Hui farmers and businessmen are visible in the local private economy. This is largely due to the fact that the Hui have wider networks with Hui from other provinces and because the Hui speak the Han language (Mandarin).

    Herein I think lies the dilemma for the Uyghurs. On the one hand, in order to compete in Han-dominated society, learning the Han language and knowing Han society is a necessity. On the other hand, in a repressive political context, learning the Han language and culture seems to follow the Han’s chauvinist policies of assimilation. For the Hui, the Han language is simply a tool, but for the Uyghur, learning the Han language has more to do with their relationship with a repressive state (China) and its policies. Also for the Hui, Islam defines their identity, while for the Uyghur, the Turkic-Uyghur language and culture are important identifiers.

    [​IMG]
    A Han farmer from Henan, China rents more than 1000 Mu in Xinjiang to grow vegetables. Uyghurs are traditional farmers and they cannot compete with state-backed Han farmers.

    Q: Can you speak more about the PRC’s discriminatory economic policies? I understand that there are generous government subsides for the Han, including grants for seeds and fertilizers to Han farmers, free farm equipment and other opportunities to defray the costs of farming that Uyghurs are denied access to?

    A:
    The eastern and southern provinces of China have prospered since the 1970s open door policy. But government policies towards Uyghurs have been harsh, especially in the 1990s. The Chinese don’t care much about economic development in Xinjiang, only stability, and stability above all.

    The Han Chinese came to Xinjiang for the oil, cotton and mining industries. They were able to hire cheap Han laborers (often their relatives, friends, and hometown fellows) from the central provinces, and make money in Xinjiang. But the Han Chinese do have subsidies and better access to technology, and they were lured by the Chinese government to Xinjiang with the promise of land owned by Chinese government. Some Uyghurs have also sold their land to incoming Han Chinese peasants. I was shocked to see that even in southern Xinjiang the Han grow good watermelons and sell at a good price.

    The Han of course are unwilling to hire Uyghurs in part due to different language and cultural customs, but state-planned economic policies and political discrimination do play an important role.

    The Uyghur economy is stagnant and miserable, especially in the rural Kashgar area of Xinjiang in the south. Uyghurs are traditional farmers and they cannot compete with state-backed Han farmers. As a result, many Uyghurs have to leave their hometown to make a living. It is really ironic to see that while the Han come to Xinjiang to get rich, the Uyghurs are going bankrupt and have to go to China proper to make money.

    Q: What do you see as the end-goal of these Western-based Uyghur organizations and particularly Rebiya Kadeer’s group, one of the most high-profile —The World Uyghur Congress?

    A:
    This is really difficult to answer. I can understand why all Uyghur organizations like to use “East Turkistan” referring to their homeland. At the same time, the use of this term (already propagandized by the Chinese government as a sign of separatism) means the death of any possible dialogues with China. It also alienates large Han Chinese populations, including overseas, and Chinese human rights groups. It is actually very interesting that even some Chinese human rights groups share some similar views with the Chinese government towards the Uyghurs, viewing the Uyghurs as terrorists and extremists simply because they are Muslims.

    Uyghur diaspora organizations seem to have no clear political agenda — whether to establish an independent country, or just to try and expose human rights issues in Xinjiang or East Turkistan. The Dalai Lama’s “middle way” and Hong Kong’s special political status may be a good example to follow.

    Given the particularities of Xinjiang, I think it is hard to formulate a clear solution as regards to the future political status of Xinjiang. The only exception here is probably the Government-in-Exile of East Turkistan Republic, led by Anwar Yusuf Turani, which openly indicates an independence agenda.

    Q: Tibet’s agenda is pretty straightforward, and yet there is still no solution to its status. How does the Uyghurs’ situation and the Tibetan situation compare?

    A:
    The Uyghurs’ situation is much worse than that of Tibetans. Tibetans have received generous economic aid from China. Even the monks living in monasteries have been provided health insurance, salaries, etc. This is probably because the Dalai Lama has put pressure on the PRC to improve Tibetans’ well-being.

    Q: What can the Uyghurs learn from the Tibetans?

    A: If the PRC will not accept even the Dalai Lama’s “middle way” (“The Tibetan people do not accept the present status of Tibet under the People’s Republic of China. At the same time, they do not seek independence for Tibet, which is a historical fact.”), I think it is hard for Uyghur organizations even to have a working relationship with China. The Dalai Lama at least has private communication channels with the Chinese government. And the Tibetans have an undisputable supreme leader and single unified government — the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in India.

    I think that the Uyghurs have a lot to learn from the Tibetans including organization building and reaching out to Han Chinese. They need to consolidate all overseas Uyghur organizations, including the Government-in-Exile of East Turkistan Republic.

    They also need to provide enough materials (in Chinese) on the Uyghurs’ misery to domestic (in China) and overseas Han to gain sympathy and support from the Han intellectuals and populace. They probably also need to think about seeking out private representatives to engage in negotiations with the Chinese government, just as the Dalai Lama does.

    We cannot forget that there are some Uyghur representatives in China as well. This includes various official representatives such as the chairman of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region (all chairs of Autonomous Regions by laws are staffed by local ethnic members), popular and religious leaders among Muslim Uyghurs, and critical intellectual leaders such as Ilham Tohti.

    Ilham Tohti derserve a special attention. Tohti is a Uyghur professor at China’s Minzu University in Beijing and he openly criticizes China’s Xinjiang policies within China’s political and legal frameworks. Of course, as Tohti’s recent detention on his way to the U.S. indicates, Uyghur leaders critical of China’s Xinjiang policy have often been silenced, arrested, and even jailed for life.

    As long as China continually supresses Uyghurs living in China and Uyghur leaders (both in Xinjiang and in exile, who are critical of the regime), then I think there is a great potential for Ms. Kadeer to form a stronger, more unified Uyghur representative body.

    Q: What can you, as a scholar, do to help the Uyghurs?

    A:
    First, as a student of anthropology and ethnology, I think scholars should use their scholarship and research to speak up for weaker minority groups and, in this, case, the repressed Uyghurs. Actually many Han intellectuals and professors have realized the unfair treatment of the Uyghurs by the Xinjiang government. Some of my professional colleagues try to raise our voices and be heard amongst China’s dominant anti-terror political scholars who benefit from various anti-terror projects and thus attempt to justify China’s repressive practices in Xinjiang.

    Secondarily, I personally conducted several field investigations in Xinjiang about Uyghur miseries and have attempted to identify the major causes in hopes of revealing the darkness in China’s Xinjiang policies and raise awareness of the Uyghur issue among the Han and other peoples.

    In other words, I hope to, as a Hui and as a scholar, to personally build a bridge between concerned Han people and the Uyghur people, to open up discourse on the Uyghur issue. I think one of the problems of Uyghur organizations in exile is that they have not actively reached out to the Han people, and thus limit their activities to human rights movements backed by western democracies. It’s important to talk to the Han. I suspect that the Chinese government will eventually change their domestic policies under pressure from Western countries especially in the context of China’s rise.

    I am trying to build a platform for a constructive dialogue between the Uyghurs and the Han to improve the Uyghur situation in Xinjiang, which is very difficult for any one individual, but I am hoping that people of different ethnicities, religions, and countries will join together to reduce the Uyghur misery. After all, we are humans and we should not tolerate inhuman treatment of our species in the 21th century, whether in Xinjiang or anywhere else.

    Rising China's Muslim Problem: What is the Future of the Uygurs? (Alimglu) | Informed Comment

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    I hope that meets your query on what is the latest.
     
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  7. Ray

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  8. Ray

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    The Absurd Ramadan Ban in China is Going to Seriously Backfire on Beijing

    August 1, 2013

    As Muslims around the world continue to observe the holy month of Ramadan, the Chinese central government has banned it altogether for the Muslim Uighurs of Xinjiang, China, making it the latest episode of Beijing's crackdown on the ethnic minority.

    This religious discrimination is only directed towards the Uighurs in Xinjiang. Ramadan is not banned anywhere else in China. The underlying issue is that Beijing is so paranoid that the Uighurs would unite and demand independence from the Chinese government, that it is prepared to control even the smallest aspects of their daily lives, such as private acts of personal religious devotion.

    Yet, ironically, it is this repression that could ultimately turn the government's fears into a reality.

    During the month of Ramadan, the Beijing government — indirectly through municipal governments — has sought to impose control over the Uighurs through various means. Muslim members of the government throughout Xinjiang have been forced to sign "letters of responsibility" promising to avoid fasting, evening prayers, or other religious activities. Uighur employees of private companies have been offered lunches during fasting hours, and anyone who refuses to eat could face losing their annual bonus or even their job.

    At a teachers college in Kashgar, Xinjiang, professors locked students in the cafeteria, so that the students were unable to celebrate the religious holiday with their families. The municipal government of Aksu also issued a warning that restaurants that closed "without reason during the 'Ramadan period,'" indicating a refusal of the central government to accept the legitimacy of the 2,500-year-old religion, would be "severely dealt with." Those who wish to attend prayers at mosques must also register with their national identity card, and are forbidden to congregate or talk to each other after prayers.

    To understand the significance of this discrimination, it is important to first understand a little about the history of China and the Uighurs.

    The Uighurs are a Muslim, Turkic-speaking ethnic minority mainly based in the autonomous region of Xinjiang in in northwest China. (In China, an ethnic minority is defined as a non-Han ethnic group; the Han make up 92% of the population, and there are 56 ethnic groups in China.) Xinjiang was brought under complete control of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949, and since then, there has been an increasing number of Han migrants who wish to make use of the region's rich agricultural and trade economy and thriving commercial hubs along the Silk Road.

    With mass Han immigration into Xinjiang, the proportion of Uighurs in Xinjiang has decreased while that of the Han Chinese has increased. The number of Uighurs in Xinjiang still remains higher than that of Han Chinese, albeit by a margin. According to government data, Uighurs make up a little under half of Xinjiang's 22 million civilian inhabitants, while Han Chinese account for 40%. Despite this, Uighurs are still treated as a minority in their home region, and have long suffered persecution by the Chinese government.

    Apart from religious restriction, Uighurs suffer a blatant lack of access to good employment, as compared to the Han migrants. While Xinjiang's economy grew by 12% in 2012, the Uighurs' standards of living did not, as they complain that better-paying jobs, land, and business opportunities have all gone to the Han Chinese.

    As a result, there have been violent clashes between the Uighurs and Han Chinese. In June, Uighur rioters attacked police stations with knives and set fire to police cars, resulting in 35 deaths. A similar clash took place in Urumqi, the region's capital, after the Chinese People's Armed Police was deployed to break up an Uighur protest. This eventually resulted in 197 deaths, over 1,700 injuries, and many disappearances following police sweeps in the days following.

    These violent clashes have unsurprisingly caused the Chinese government and state media to label Uighurs as "terrorists." China Daily says that the Uighurs of Xinjiang are a "clear and present danger" in the region. Pan Zhiping, a professor from Xinjiang University, also claims that, “The West has been holding double standards in the definition of terrorism. If the East Turkestan separatists carry out evil deeds in Xinjiang, some Western opinions whitewash them as seeking ‘national self-determination.’”

    In light of this, what should be made of the Ramadan ban?

    The government may ban congregations or socializing after prayers for now, and it may even go further in the future. But these impositions of control can backfire and serve to unite the oppressed. The more the Chinese government seeks to repress and impose control over the Uighurs, the angrier the Uighers will become; the bloodier and more frequent the clashes will be.

    This is a vicious cycle that can only be resolved by communication and compromise from both sides.

    The Absurd Ramadan Ban in China is Going to Seriously Backfire on Beijing - PolicyMic

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    It is interesting to note that Ramazan is not banned elsewhere in China.

    It is only applicable to Uyghurs and in Xinjiang!

    It indicates the mortal fear of the Han over the Uyghurs.

    A clear indication that they refuse to be assimilated and become Han like the Hui (other Muslims of China who are in all respect Han in habit, except eating pork) and like the Tibetans, who too refuse to be converted and assimilated as Han.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2013
  9. Ray

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    Red Tape: Chinese Government Regulation of Uyghur Religious Freedom

    May 20, 2013 - 10:12am


    By Henryk Szadziewski

    It is Ramadan. The Chinese government has mandated all restaurants remain open for business during fasting hours. Regulations stipulate that state workplaces provide free lunches for their employees, and non-Muslims wait to see if their Muslim co-workers will sit down to eat with them. Schools tell students under the age of 18 that they cannot go to the mosque and pray during the holy month, or indeed at any time. The state has proscribed the communal and private religious education of children to the extent that affinities to Islam are becoming diluted. Imams, all of whom have undergone political education classes, sermonize to the only people eligible to enter the mosque, that is, men aged over 18 not employed by the government. Every Koran in public use is state approved. Any outward expression of faith in workplaces, hospitals, and some private businesses, such as men wearing beards or women wearing headscarves, is forbidden. In short, the state controls the smallest details of individual expressions of religious belief and practice.

    This is the stark picture of restrictions placed on the religious freedom of the Uyghur people, documented by the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) in a new report titled Sacred Right Defiled. The Uyghur are a Turkic Muslim people whose homeland, in China’s far northwest, is known as either Xinjiang or East Turkestan, depending on your politics. The distinct Uyghur cultural identity is besieged through a variety of state policies that include the exclusion of the Uyghur language in educational institutions, the demolition of traditional Uyghur neighborhoods, and a steady migration of Han Chinese into predominately Uyghur towns and cities. Sacred Right Defiled details how the Chinese state has implemented an array of ever-restrictive regulations on religion, a cornerstone of Uyghur identity. As scholar Arienne Dwyer states, “For both urban and rural Uyghurs, ethnic identity is linked with religious and linguistic identity.”

    In 2005, Religious Affairs Regulations took effect across the People’s Republic of China. The regulations were the most comprehensive attempt to date to define the permissible aspects of religious expression across the nation, and marked the culmination of numerous regional regulations covering religious sites, government employees and religious leaders implemented since the late 1980s, especially in Uyghur and Tibetan regions. At the time the national regulations came into force, according to Ma Pinyan of the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, the Uyghur region already had more religious regulations than any other province, proving them to be a “powerful legal weapon” to control religion. Sensing the effectiveness of heavy regulation in managing religious affairs in ethnic minority areas, Chinese authorities moved to contain burgeoning religious groups countrywide through national measures.

    In a hallmark of authoritarianism, the Chinese government is codifying its repression through the development of legal instruments. Since 2005, the policy with regard to religion has continued unabated on a national and regional level. More regulations, as well as revisions of existing regulations, have been passed in an attempt to further narrow the scope of religious expression. In the Uyghur region, this has resulted in further curbs on imams, religious publications, and undertaking the Hajj among many other controls. Ramadan in 2012 was widely viewed as one of the most restrictive in years. State work units assigned personnel to check that colleagues were not worshipping at mosques in accordance with the ban on mosque attendance for government employees. China often cites security concerns in implementing such limitations. As recently as April, Wang Zuo’an, head of the State Administration for Religious Affairs said, “religion can become a lure for unrest and antagonism.” Many of the regulations targeting Uyghurs, especially those aimed to confine the religious beliefs and practices of Uyghur children, are not seen in other regions of China. Coupled with the absence of the Uyghur language in education, restrictions on the religious practice of Uyghur children weaken connections to ethnic identity and create disincentives for their use and practice in wider society.

    The even darker side of China’s regulatory body to curb religious freedom is that many Uyghurs interviewed by UHRP described their confusion over what religious expressions were permitted under Chinese laws, as there were such a bewildering number of regulations passed. According to UHRP research, while officials continue to emphasize the need to make legislation clearer and more accessible, the latest Religious Affairs Regulations remain difficult to find on government websites. Confusion or innocent ignorance of religious regulations tended to make Uyghurs err on the side of caution rather than risk trouble with the authorities. Rightfully so, as UHRP documents, those Uyghurs who have been convicted of “illegal religious activities” face long terms in prison and even torture, as in the case of the Uyghur Christian, Alimjan Yimit.

    China does have articles protecting religious freedom in the Constitution and the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law; however, urging China to respect them is only part of the picture. China implementation of harsh religious regulations against Uyghurs is one of many egregious violations of Uyghur human rights that also include abuses of political and economic rights. Yet it is through the Uyghurs’ faith in Islam that China is pressing hardest to validate an intensification of its repression on the Uyghur people. China’s recent attempt to equate a violent incident in Maralbeshi, near Kashgar, on April 23 with the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing illustrates how China is leveraging terrorism accusations to justify crackdowns on the Uyghur. In the murky case of Maralbeshi, where 21 people lost their lives in a clash between local police and alleged Uyghur terrorists, even the usually reticent U.S. State Department said China should “provide all Chinese citizens, including Uighurs, the due process protections to which they are entitled.”

    While launching the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2013 Annual Report, USCIRF Chair Katrina Lantos Swett remarked on the importance of religious freedom to security. She concluded religious freedom encourages moderate factions to flourish and saves religious minorities from the dangers of marginalization. China’s future stability faces this challenge stemming from its current treatment of religious minorities within its borders. If China is to realize its potential as a global power, it must abide by its international standards; however, China also needs to appreciate the value of religious freedom to its own prosperity.

    Red Tape: Chinese Government Regulation of Uyghur Religious Freedom | World Policy Institute
     
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    cobra commando Tharki regiment Veteran Member Senior Member

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