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Uighur Muslims deserve better

By Dr Rais Hussin

XINJIANG, contrary to what many people believe, is not the word which Uighur Muslims chose, or accept. In Mandarin, it means "new land". But, here is the puzzle. Islam has a history in China, especially Xi-An, even much further east to Xinjiang, since the 7th century A.D.

And, if the local lore can be accepted, Muslims in China do believe that the first merchant to propagate Islam to Han Chinese and Uigur Muslims was none other than Saad Ibn Waqqas, a close disciple of Prophet Muhammad. The Han Chinese, who constitute almost 95 per cent of entire population of China, did not accept or understand Islam immediately.

Nor should they as Islam is based on non-compulsion. But some of the Han Chinese did accept Islam and identify themselves as Hui Muslims. Hui is the first letter of Hui-Ziao, which means Islam in Mandarin. Hui-Ziao means the teachings that encourage people of all creeds to return to their basic essence: to believe in God, or alternatively, Heaven, as God, as Professor Tu Wei Ming at Beijing University would have it.

Given the symmetry and harmony between Islam and China that go back to the 7th century, which has continued to this day, why has the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) imposed more and more punitive discipline and pressure on the 12 million Uighur Muslim minorities amid a Han (non-Muslim) population of 1.4 billion?

Yet, the State Council of China, equivalent to the cabinet, has finally admitted that there are "re-education camps" or "vocational centres", reported in South China Morning Post (SCMP) online edition of Sept 18, 2020. It was further highlighted by Ink Stone publication, a sister online news portal of SCMP.

It is too bad that SCMP has introduced a paywall. Otherwise, readers from all over the world can read it. If readers are curious about what China's government officials are saying in the State Council, they can read this publication — — in Ink Stone before they cast aspersions on this article.

The fact is there are more than a million Uighur Muslims who are "trapped" — to put it politely — in these camps. The numbers correspond with the estimates of many reliable news and non-governmental organisations in Asia and the West. And, they should be concerned, because all forms of brainwashing and tortures are being tested on the hapless Uighurs. Even the the United Nations is concerned.

One of the worse treatments, applied on men and women, is to strap then to the "Dragon Chair" where all their hands and limbs are rendered immovable, while they are humiliated, interrogated, and potentially challenge to disavow their Islamic beliefs.

But beyond the tens of thousands of detention camps across Xinjiang, what Uighurs themselves prefer to identify their homeland as "East Turkestan", Chinese Communist Party officials are actually allowed to visit undetained family members of the Uighurs (Source:

This is one of the most humiliating experiences, where Uighur Muslim women, even men, are subjected to perverted sexual abuse, including rape and molestation. And should the Uighur Muslims resist, they would be further reported; where anything ranging from arbitrary arrest and further prolonged detention of their family members and relatives are extended.

Beijing has a campaign to save their 55 minorites. But Beijing should not do so by transgressing on the human dignity of Uighur Muslims as the Belt and Road Initiative traverse across at least 30 Muslim countries out of 67 countries that have agreed to support the Belt and Road Initiative.

China needs to be wise to U-turn on their policy on Uighur Muslims, even Hui or Kazakh Muslims, or perhaps Han non- Muslims who are sympathetic to the plight of Uighurs and the Muslims. Islam and China can co-exist based on truth, human equality, not lies and all things pernicious that a dysfunctional state may do.

Don't bully minorities or try to colonise anyone as many assertions rose on the possibility of the use of "debt-trap" as a new weapon of neo-colonisation done through the offer of huge debts with impossible path of repayment as we saw in Sri Lanka's Hambantota sea port.

China is not a dysfunctional state given the speed by which it can contain Covid-19. Be wise. There are 2.2 billion Muslims in 57 countries that perhaps should rise and demand answers from China.

The writer is the President/CEO of Emir Research, an independent think-tank focused on strategic policy recommendations.

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