Chinese Government Demands Uyghur Muslims to Hand in Their Prayer Mats and Qurans

“If only they knew Muslims can pray on the floor and millions recite Quran without opening it they probably ask them to hand in their heart” that was former Chelsea and Newcastle United FC footballer Demba Ba’s reaction to the new that the Chinese government is requesting all ethnic Uyghur to hand in all of their prayer mats, Qurans, and any other Islamic religious symbols. The Chinese government claims is taking these measures in order to combat “radicalization” however in reality is just another tactic by the authorities to keep oppressing the Uyghur people as they have done so for many decades.

Who are the Uyghur?

The Uyghur are an ethnic minority group living primarily in the Xinjiang region of China and are on the 55 recognized ethnic minorities in China. They are the second largest Muslim minority in China after the Hui. Their appearance does vary, going anywhere from a more Euroasian look to a more East – Asian one.

Their history is a source of contention between the Uyghur and the Chinese government. The Uyghur claim a long standing history of inhabiting Xinjiang going back about 6,000 years. The Chinese government however claims the Uyghur migrated from Mongolia to the Xinjiang region sometime in the 9th century.

What are their grievances?

Tensions have always been high between the Chinese central authorities and the Uyghur. The Uyghur did claim independence in the early 20th century, however by 1949 Xinjiang was under Chinese control. Ever since, the Uyghur have accused the Chinese government of oppression and for gradually limiting religious freedoms, and freedoms of expression. From their side, the Chinese government blames Uyghur separatists for instigating violence; however many agree that the claim is exaggerated in order justify oppression, especially in the likes of the cracking down of street protests right before the Beijing Olympics of 2008, and the current situation with confiscation of Qurans and prayer rugs. Many experts and activists claim that the violence instigated by the Uyghurs is a reaction to the harsh policies the Chinese government puts in place.

What is going on at the moment in Xinjiang with this newest crackdown, is not something that will stop any time soon. The oppression will continue, and the Uyghur people will keep suffering. As we remember our Palestinian, Syrian, Egyptian, Kahmiri, Rohingya etc. brothers and sisters, it is imperative that we do not forget our oppressed brothers and sisters in the region of Xinjiang. We are one community after all.