Xinjiang's Uyghurs didn't choose to be Muslim, new Chinese report says

Holy Quran and praying mats that are collected from Uyghur Muslims for destruction

By Ben Westcott and Yong Xiong, CNN
Updated 1:14 AM ET, Mon July 22, 2019

Hong Kong (CNN)China has delved back centuries in an attempt to justify its controversial policies in the far-western region of Xinjiang, where experts say up to 2 million Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities have been held against their will in vast detention centers.

In a white paper released Sunday, the Chinese State Council Information Office painted Xinjiang as a religiously diverse community where a number of faiths had co-existed for centuries.

The 6,800-word document, released in full by state news agency Xinhua, said that Xinjiang "respects citizens' freedom to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion."

However, it also said Islam was introduced to region by force during a religious war in the 10th century, which ended Buddhism's centuries of dominance.

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