Kashgar’s old city: the politics of demolition

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April 03, 2009 | openDemocracy | By Henryk Szadziewski

The heart of Kashgar – a place where Uyghur people have lived and worked for centuries – is being destroyed or transformed into a tourist theme-park, and its people resettled. In a pattern familiar in modern China no one has asked the Uyghurs themselves, says Henryk Szadziewski.

In the heart of Kashgar’s old city, the bustle of central Asian life has not changed in centuries. In bright sunlight, the mud-brick buildings seemingly blend in with labyrinth-like streets powdered by the sands of the Taklamakan desert. Coppersmiths hammer away making shapely bowls, pans and jugs, which will sit on the shelves of cool courtyard-fronted homes. A seller of shirniliq meghiz (hand-made Uyghur candy) pushes his cart in the heat of the day, stops, and wipes the sweat from his brow. Women, their heads covered with brown-coloured gauzed blankets, move from market-stall to market-stall discussing the cost of spices (sold in huge sacks) and cuts of mutton (hanging on shaded meat-hooks). Vendors selling hand-sewn doppas (Uyghur skull-caps) and brightly decorated knives from Yengisar, (the best in the region) watch donkey-cart drivers shouting the warning posh! posh! as they navigate the streets and the people. Minarets subtly overlook over the scene, reminding Kashgaris that in addition to trade, Islam is also an influence on their daily routines. Then, a muezzin’s call breaks the activity and stirs the pious to hurry along the narrow streets to attend prayers.

Read the full op-ed here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/kashgar-s-old-city-the-politics-of-demolition/