The asphyxiation of Xinjiang’s Muslims

Xinjiang separatists who practice terrorism exist, as we saw in the horrific knife attack in Kunming in 2014. Does that justify the widespread suppression of all Muslims in Xinjiang and other parts of western China? China seems determined to radicalize its Uighur population, all under the rubric of state security. How far can China go as it tries to impose its will on Xinjiang Muslims, who feel they are under siege as Han Chinese settlers continue to “colonize” the province? It looks like they are willing to go pretty far.

Families sundered by a wave of detentions. Mosques barred from broadcasting the call to prayer. Restrictions on the movements of laborers that have wreaked havoc on local agriculture. And a battery of ever more intrusive ways to monitor the communications of citizens for possible threats to public security.

A recent 10-day journey across the Xinjiang region in the far west of China revealed a society seething with anger and trepidation as the government, alarmed by a slow-boil insurgency that has claimed hundreds of lives, has introduced unprecedented measures aimed at shaping the behavior and beliefs of China’s 10 million Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority that considers this region its homeland.

Outrageous restrictions are being imposed on Uighurs in Xinjiang, as the article delineates, and this iron-fisted approach only serves to exacerbate tensions between the Han and the Muslims. Read the article to see just how extreme these restrictions are. Imagine bein know that if I were a Uighur in Xinjiang I would resist with every fiber of my being.


Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

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