Residents and observers have referred to China’s actions in Xinjiang as the work of a ”bulldozer state”. However, regardless, there is no other way to describe their systematic destruction and remodeling of this particular region’s landscape, that was dear to its people. Mosques, like the one in Keriya, became one of the earliest targets of the campaign against, what they call as, ”religious extremism”.
Back in 2017, a reporter visited the eastern region of Qumul and got to know from the local officials that more than 200 of the region’s 800 mosques had already been destroyed. While another were 500 scheduled for demolition in 2018. Residents say they were shocked to see their mosques disappeared overnight and leveled without a prior warning.
Mosques are not the only targets of this discriminatory and oppressive campaign. The entire cities are being redesigned to facilitate maximum surveillance, control and security. The public sites are under scrutiny and supervision. The ancient city of Kashgar and other sites of the same architectural interest have been demolished and then rebuilt to suit the needs of what the government, under the banner of the revival of tourism to the country.
Mosques are not the only sites being demolished. The bulldozer is also at work on communities, culture and people’s lives. Everyday religious practices in the Muslim majority province has been banned. Checkpoints, facial recognition software, mobile phone scanners – the surveillance technology has suffocated the shrinking minority. The ones ”prone to extremism” are brutally suppressed. But what do the authorities refer to as extremism? An official list of signs of extremism includes things such as refusing cigarettes and alcohol, not watching television and contacting people abroad.
”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.” – wrote Rachel Harris in her piece for The Guardian.
Muslim countries, particularly the ones that are indebted to China due to the development loans and projects, have failed to condemn against China’s anti-Muslim stance. Even the allies, who actively pay lip-service to human rights, have remained silent as well.
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