What can the Muslim world do to save the Uighurs and Islam in China?

Published 02.12.2019

Between Aug. 16 and Aug. 25, I was in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China. Invited by the State Council Information Office of China and Xinjiang, I was part of a group of journalists who were sent to visit three major cities: Urumqi, Aksu, and Kashgar. Our visit, which was covered by the Chinese authorities, was stage-managed by Xinjiang authorities who wanted to convince us that things are fine in Xinjiang.

I arrived in Urumqi on Aug. 16. From Aug. 17 to Aug. 19, we attended several lectures by Communist Party officials regarding the history, religion and human rights practices in Xinjiang. In these sessions, Chinese officials like Xu Guixiang and Ma Pinyan delivered the white paper on Xinjiang, issued by the Chinese government.

In these lectures we were told that the Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims were migrants in this region, Islam was forcefully imposed by the Arabs and Turks, and Xinjiang has always been part of China. During our stay, we visited the Museum of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in Urumqi, the Aksu Museum and the Kashgar Museum. In these museums, the Chinese government is delivering the same message from the white paper: Xinjiang has historically been Chinese, the Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims are migrants, Islam is a foreign religion and it was imposed by force on the Uighurs.