A Muslim delegation visited Xinjiang and reported all is well there. Uyghur throughout the world are denouncing its statement as Goebbels-style propaganda.
by Gulfiye Y, with Abdurehim Gheni Uyghur
“We are happy to see Muslims in Xinjiang lead a happy life. They fully enjoy the freedom of religious belief.” As reported by Bitter Winter, this was the unbelievable statement by a delegation of thirty Islamic clerics and intellectuals led by Emirates scholar Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi on behalf of The World Muslim Communities Council (TWMCC), during a visit to the Uyghur homeland stage-managed by the Chinese government this month.
Al Nuaimi said that in Chinese culture there is no concept of targeting Muslims or Islam, adding that it is their [TWMCC] responsibility to tell the world about China’s prosperity and development. Really?
China was very selective on who was invited to “tour” the region. There were no independent scholars or journalists, and all invitees were connected to governments that have never acknowledged the Uyghur genocide nor any human rights violations in China. This visit also comes after claims that Egypt, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia have been deporting Uyghur refugees back to China, despite obvious concerns over their safety if sent back.
We would like to compare this attitude towards the Uyghur genocide to how the same Islamic countries, and often the same Islamic intellectuals, reacted to offensive cartoons published in Europe. Readers may remember the cartoon controversy of September 2005, when “Jyllands-Posten,” a Danish newspaper, published twelve cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad. Within six months, 139 people died and 823 were injured by violence following the controversy. Danish, Austrian, and Norwegian embassies were burned in Syria and Iran. Islamic leaders called for a boycott of Danish goods, and the cartoonists themselves had to go into hiding due to death threats.
Even more well-known is the “Charlie Hebdo” shooting of January 7, 2015, following the publication by the French magazine of cartoons offensive to Islam. Twelve people were killed, including eight cartoonists and journalists of the magazine. Five people died in a related attack in Paris days later. The “Charlie Hebdo” cartoons, too, elicited a worldwide condemnation from the Islamic world and its intellectuals.
We do not condone offenses to religion and to Islam. However, we ask the question: is the Uyghur genocide a less serious attack on Islam than the publication of offensive cartoons in Europe? If some regard symbolic offenses as intolerable, why they did not react when the Holy Quran was burned in East Turkestan (Ch. Xinjiang) or its verses referencing Allah were written on floor tiles in a café to be walked on? Are the desecration of mosques less offensive than satirical drawings? Why the different reactions—different in the extreme—by the Islamic world? One led to attacks on several embassies and widespread violence and murder; the other elicits little or no condemnation. The two publishers were small private businesses in contrast to the government-sanctioned actions directly targeting a whole people, their faith, their life, their very existence.
It is difficult to explain such an attitude, which is obviously motivated by political and economic interests and agendas. Unless… Unless East Turkestan can be presented as a utopia of peace and religious liberty, as the visiting Muslim delegation claimed. In this case, there is no need for protest.
However, this is a travesty of the reality. In a statement after TWMCC’s visit, the International Union of The East Turkistan Organizations wrote that, “More than 16000 Religious places are destroyed, over half a million Muslim Uyghur Children had been victims of state-run apostasy agendas of China, millions of Muslims are sent to concentration camps, thousands of healthy Muslims are affected by China’s organ harvesting missions, millions of Islamic literature had been burned and entire Uyghur Muslims have been criminalized for their Islamic faith. This is what the Islamic leaders are praising, supporting, endorsing, and taking sides with China’s massacre and genocide policies against the Muslims of East Turkistan, and the act of the Delegation clearly demonstrates a total betrayal of the teaching of Islam.”
That there is no religious freedom in East Turkistan is continuously confirmed by international reports, most recently by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
A group of distinguished Muslim scholars and organizations also published a “Joint Statement of Muslim Scholars and Organizations against Chinese Misleading Propaganda for The Islamic Region.” We read there that, “We, the ‘Commissions of Muslim Scholars and the Participating Organizations,’ condemn and denounce in the strongest terms the visit of The World Muslim Communities Council (TWMCC) to East Turkistan, a visit that justifies the Chinese crime at the expense of the genocide of Muslims in East Turkistan, which is supported by the statements of the Council officials that praise the Chinese achievements in fighting ‘terrorism’ and ‘extremism’ and the ‘necessity’ of melting different ethnicities into one crucible. [This is] in strange disregard for facts [that] are supported by evidence and reports issued by various international forums and organizations about the deplorable humanitarian situation in East Turkistan, and Chinese practices which are at the level of Genocide, systematically and continuously practiced against Muslims in East Turkistan.”
TWMCC’s actions discredit the entire mission and makes it irrelevant to any positive or beneficial aid to the Uyghurs. It is a monstrous falsehood, an embarrassment and a millstone of shame on these individuals and their organizations. But their testimony will be of use to some to promote the narrative put out by the Chinese Communist Party to the detriment and demoralization of the Uyghurs. Perhaps a big lie continuously repeated will eventually be believed.
TWMCC’s visit did not succeed in covering up the Uyghur genocide. It just exposed the corruption of Arab regimes and the brutality and cunning of the Chinese autocracy.
The Chinese Mission at the United Nations Human Rights Council stated that, “Xinjiang-related issues are not human rights issues at all, but issues of counter-terrorism, de-radicalization, and anti-separatism.”
We are reminded of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, whose strategies have been studied extensively after World War II. Goebbels’ strategy has been reconstructed as a five-point model:
- Avoid abstract ideas—appeal to the emotions.
- Constantly repeat just a few ideas. Use stereotyped phrases.
- Give only one side of the argument.
- Continuously criticize your opponents.
- Pick out one special “enemy” for special vilification.
Goebbels-style propaganda was at work when the Islamic delegation was accompanied to visit the Museum of Fighting Extremism & Terrorism in Urumqi. The Chinese propaganda mouthpiece “Global Times” reported that, “Saudi Arabia’s former Minister of Education Abdullah Saleh Al Obaid said they felt grieved to see the terrorist attacks in Xinjiang region. Osama Elsayed Mahmoud Mohamed Saad, the Egyptian president’s advisor for religious affairs, said that the exhibition exposed the crimes of terrorists and also showed the efforts made by the Chinese government and Chinese people to counter terrorism.” This can be summarized as “China and the Chinese Communist Party good; Uyghurs bad; Goebbels proud.”
One of the authors of this article, known as the “lonely Uyghur” protesting in Amsterdam, has 19 family members missing and has spent more than five years without knowing whether they are alive or dead, imprisoned, or suffering atrocities. The fate of the women is of deepest concern. Many friends are missing. The evidence of the atrocities is unquestionable and unbearable. This family is the evidence of China’s genocide against Uyghurs.
We experience the fear and helplessness under such tyranny. We see the lack of concrete results of the many human rights efforts by organizations and governments, the impotency of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And now we have to suffer the pain of so-called Islamic clerics testifying to the utopian life of the Uyghurs. These Muslim clerics and intellectuals have violated the teachings of the Quran by lying about fellow Muslims and delivering them into the hands of an adversary. May they suffer eternal shame.
We conclude with the words of Burhan Uluyol Uyghur, an academic at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, and a regular protester against the genocide: “Cruel China has arrested my father, mother, brothers, uncles, and nephews. They have been under arrest for four [now six] years. We are here to be their voice… Organization of Islamic Countries, listen to our voice! You can ignore Uyghur people or you can ignore East Turkistan, but you have to protect the Islam in East Turkistan! Protect the houses of Allah! Protect the honor of Islam! Protect the values of Islam!” TWMCC has not offended Muslims and Uyghurs only, but also the victims of CCP brutality in Tibet, Hong Kong, Southern Mongolia, and all those persecuted and jailed in China for their religious or political dissent. The thirty members of TWMCC delegations have sided with the persecutors and abandoned the victims. This is unforgivable. They have unleashed a backlash that should haunt them forever.