China Islam Islamophobia Racism

The Plight of Uighur Muslims in China

Just because China names it different doesn’t mean “concentration camps” are “re-education centers.” Uighur Muslims are being tortured in detention camps, and it is evident that the Chinese government wisely denies the claim. The Xinjiang province of China consists of Uighur Muslims, and they are the minorities, so it’s no wonder they are being inflicted pain on. It’s actually happening in most parts of the world.

For example, Sri Lanka has a deep-rooted history of ill-treatment for minorities. Even during a pandemic like this, it’s more concerned with denying Muslims’ burial rights (minorities) than to consider other conspiracies that are taking a turn in the country. So it’s not new for Muslims to experience racism. But China is way ahead in this agenda. If you want to turn a blind eye to what’s happening in China, you can, but wouldn’t it be nice to take action? You have the voice so you could raise your voice, and that’s precisely taking action!

What’s actually happening in China?

Uighurs Muslims belong to the Turkic ethnic group, and they are around 11 million in total, but most live in Xinjiang, China. Other Uighur Muslims are in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Australia. Although Xinjiang was not a part of China, they took control of it in 1949, and some Uighur Muslims still refer to it as East Turkestan.

Uighur Muslims speak various dialects; one of the main dialects is impacted by Standard Soviet and Standard Xinjiang. Apart from other inhumane activities carried by China, they also force Uighur Muslims to learn Mandarin. They intend to erase the native language spoken by Uighur, which is Uighur.

As we all know, China is allegedly persecuting Muslims by forcing them into concentration camps that they have termed as “re-education centers.” In these camps, Muslims are made to consume pork, which is haram (impermissible) for them. It got even worse when kids were separated from their guardians not to learn Islam and not grow up to be Muslim kids. Another heart-wrenching case reported by the BBC was “The US seizes ‘forced ‘labor Chinese hair imports.” It was assumed to be women’s hair forcibly taken from prisoners or children in the detention camps.

The Chinese government has prohibited veils worn by Muslim women and men from growing long beards. It also destroyed mosques in Xinjiang. As per reports, more than 1 million Uighur Muslims have been taken into 85 contraction camps by now. Satellite images revealed the lands, but only in 2017-2018, this movement got critical. 

It’s not surprising that the Chinese government denied the accusation, and after they were held accountable for the camp images, watchtowers, and wire fences, they acknowledged them as re-education camps maintained for Uighur. This sounds skeptical and weird. Uighur Muslim women spoke out about forcible sterilization. There have been reports that Women are induced with contraceptive devices, and if successful, concentration camps are their destiny. Many Muslims in Uighur have experienced violent physical abuse because of their beliefs. It’s crucial to know that Uighur Muslims’ region is high in mineral and oil supplies.

What’s China’s Take on This?

When people raised concern, the Chinese government reassured everyone that they are running “re-education camps.” They also mentioned that they are combating terrorist activities and extremism. This decision was made because of the brutal incidents in 2009 and 2014 in the Urumqi and Kunming railway station.

The Chinese Ambassador also has mentioned that since 1990, there have been several terrorist attacks. And he denied that the Chinese government is mistreating Uighur Muslims in China.

What’s the World’s Response?

In 2019, the UN Human Rights Council received a signed letter from 23 countries, while most European countries condemned China’s violence. Exactly after four days, the Chinese government and their mistreatment were backed by 37 countries, and they especially mentioned China’s achievements related to human rights. Unfortunately, most countries that backed China were Muslim countries such as Qatar, Sudan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.  

However, in 2019, during the UN General Assembly, the USA condemned the Chinese government for Uighur Muslims’ alleged treatment. Around 30 countries supported the condemnation. One of the recent responses was from the UK, and it says, “UK chief rabbi: Unfathomable mass atrocity perpetrated on China’s Uighur Muslims.” It’s actually getting worse day by day. If we choose to remain silent, the injustice will continue.

What’s Our Role Here?

Although we can’t cater to all the allegations, we can respond and react to at least one. Yes, I’m talking about forced labor. We are forced to assume that our voices don’t matter, but it’s not the case. The fashion industry is one of the most profitable industries, but you can question and hold them accountable. You can contact brands and call them out on social media and ask them how their products are made. Raise the issue of forced labor in social media, and you simply call out using hashtags. You have to demand transparency if you want to end the violence carried on marginalized groups.

We can be the voice for the voiceless. It’s important to talk about how Uighur Muslims are being forced into detention camps. We must stand against restricting basic human rights and it’s insane that they are ill-treated because they are Muslims or minorities. It’s crucial to sign petitions that raise their concerns over this issue. We need to call upon leaders to act against China’s allegations of Uighur Muslims. We can request politicians and government MPs to talk about the concentration camps and request transparency.

It sounds impossible until you make it happen. But with the Almighty’s help and blessing, we can get there. Make sure to spread the word in local mosques about the horrific situations, talk to your family and friends about it. You should also include Uighur Muslims in your dua because that’s the best form of help you could do!

Keep talking until you are heard and served right!

Shakira Shareef
Shakira is a freelance writer. She loves writing on lifestyle, freelancing, travel, self-help, business, and Islam. If not writing, she'd be cleaning or reading. Yes, zero human interaction –she's pretty boring!