World Bulletin / News Desk
While learning the Quran as a kid, I was taught about the five pillars of Islam, including the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Today, while I may be free to make this journey alongside millions of other Muslims, thousands of Uighurs have been jailed by the Chinese government for trying to do so.
Many people have heard about the capture of Palestine, the wars in Yemen and Syria, and the genocide against the Rohingya. Lesser known is the illegal occupation of East Turkestan by China since 1949. The land of the Uighurs and other Central Asian peoples, it was seized by China because of its natural resources.
The culture of our people is poles apart from China. After the capture of East Turkestan, Mao Zedong ordered his Red Army to deface mosques and destroy the Quran in the name of “cultural revolution”. During that time, Beijing accused Muslims of promoting “anti-socialist trends” by practising their religion.
In spite of these atrocities, the essence of Islam stayed alive in the hearts of Uighurs. As time passed, the restrictions on their lives worsened. First, China erased our country’s name by calling it Xinjiang (“new territory”), and now it is trying to erase our lives by detaining hundreds of thousands of Uighurs in Nazi-style concentration camps, where they are tortured and forced to denounce Islam.
In reality, the state is snatching away the community’s freedom and working to wipe out its Muslim identity
For Uighurs living in East Turkestan, carrying out the Hajj often remains just a dream. The Chinese government severely limits the number of passports issued to Muslims who want to undertake this journey, and those who make independent arrangements end up in jail.
According to a report by Amnesty International, Chinese authorities last year detained more than 200 Uighur Muslims for joining religious tours to the Middle East. People organising unauthorised religious travel abroad, including Muslims planning to attend the Hajj, can face fines of up to 200,000RMB ($29,000).
Mosque education banned
This year, 11,500 Muslims from China are joining the Hajj, fewer than the 12,800 who made the trip last year, according to a report from the Global Times. Many have reportedly been issued GPS trackers, allowing Chinese organisers to monitor their movements.
China has also banned religious education for young people in mosques, silenced the call to prayer and ordered the cancellation of public Arabic classes, among other sanctions. China’s communist government has redefined extremism: it now refers to anyone who doesn't eat pork, fasts during Ramadan, wears an “abnormal” beard or a veil, refuses to watch state TV, or abstains from alcohol and tobacco. One Uighur official was punished for refusing to smoke in front of his elders.
Source: Middle East EyeGüncelleme Tarihi: 20 Ağustos 2018, 15:33