China Destroyed Uighur Notre Dame
We are not making nearly enough noise about the cultural genocide the Beijing government is undertaking in Xinjiang province, against the Uighur Muslims. From scholar Rachel Harris in The Guardian:
After the Cultural Revolution, Uighur and Kazakh Muslims began to reconnect with their faith. They resumed the traditional practices of pilgrimage and festivals at the shrines that lie deep in the Taklamakan desert. They began to learn about Islam in the wider world; people who could afford it travelled to Mecca for the hajj, and they began to rebuild their mosques. As local communities grew richer they invested in bigger and more beautiful mosques; people crowded into them for Friday prayers, and they served as living symbols of community identity and pride.
I was reminded of all this by an image posted on Twitter last week. Shawn Zhang, who did pioneering work revealing the existence of the massive network of detention camps for Muslims in Xinjiang, posted “before and after” satellite images of Keriya mosque in the southern region of Hotan. This towering architectural monument, thought to date back to 1237 and extensively renovated in the 1980s and 1990s, was photographed on a festival day in 2016 with thousands of worshippers spilling out on to the streets. By 2018 the site where it had stood was a smooth patch of earth.
The Keriya mosque was built around the same time as Notre Dame de Paris (begun in 1160, nearly complete by 1260). And now it’s gone. Not even a trace of it remains.
More about what the Chinese are doing to any Uighur it deems a threat to its totalitarian control (how are you identified as a threat? If you refuse cigarettes or alcohol, you might be a Muslim extremist, according to Beijing):
Individuals identified in this way are sent to one of the many mass detention camps that have been constructed across the region over the past few years. The camp system is veiled in secrecy, but researchers have amassed overwhelming evidence that over a million Uighur and Kazakh Muslims have been incarcerated in them. Inmates are subjected to a gruelling regime of study and self-criticism underpinned by systematic brutality and torture.
We know about this because of countless acts of bravery by Uighurs and Kazakhs in the diaspora, who have chosen to speak out in spite of the very real fear that their loved ones will be punished for their actions. The Chinese government is pursuing a vigorous propaganda campaign to persuade the international community that the camps are benign “vocational training centres” necessary to root out extremist violence and restore stability to the region. Having seen so many of my own Uighur colleagues and friends disappear into the camps, I find this narrative insulting. Those detained include academics, pop stars, comedians and poets: individuals who – like the bulldozed mosques – are symbols of Uighur identity and pride. This creaming-off of the cultural elite – as my east European colleagues have noted – recalls the Stalinist terror of the 1930s.
Read the whole thing. There’s more. Beijing is determined not only to wipe out Uighur religion and culture, but also to wipe out the Uighur people.
Take a look at this report by the Wall Street Journal: