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China’s Gulag for Muslims

January 2, 2019 in Economics

By Mustafa Akyol

Mustafa Akyol

One of the darkest episodes of the 20th century was the gulag
— the Soviet system of forced labor camps where dissidents
were imprisoned in terrible conditions, often to perish. The camps
were established by Lenin, expanded by Stalin and finally exposed
to the world by the great Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn,
with his 1973 masterpiece, “The Gulag Archipelago.”

“Thin strands of human lives stretch from island to island
of Archipelago,” he wrote, and “it is enough if you
don’t freeze in the cold, and if thirst and hunger
don’t claw at your insides.”

Today, Russia’s gulags are long gone, as is the Communist
Party of the Soviet Union that operated them. But now another
dictatorship, ruled by another Communist Party, is operating
a new chain of prisons that evoke memory of the
- more modern, more high-tech, but no less

In modern-day
“re-education” prisons, Beijing is forcing ethnic Uighurs to
forsake their religion. Why don’t Muslim governments rise up in

These are China’s “re-education camps,”
established in the far-western Xinjiang region, where up to a
million Chinese are reportedly imprisoned in order to be indoctrinated. People are
forced to listen to ideological lectures, sing hymns praising the
Chinese Communist Party and write “self-criticism”
essays. Survivors also tell about military-style discipline, sleep
deprivation, solitary confinement, beatings and torture.

The target of this mass persecution is China’s Muslim
minorities — especially the Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking people
based in Xinjiang. They follow a mainstream, moderate
interpretation of Sunni Islam. But that is enough of a
mental illness” for Chinese Communists,
whose ideology considers all religions, including Christianity, to
be backward superstitions that must be diluted and nationalized.
That is why they go as far as forbidding people from having beards or fasting
during Ramadan, and forcing them to consume pork and alcohol, both of which are
forbidden in Islam.

Chinese authorities say they are alarmed about extremists among
the Uighurs — and, in fact, a handful of terrorists have
carried out attacks against government targets over the years. But
those extremists arose partly in response to a decades-old policy
of subjugation, along with ethnic colonialization, that Beijing has
pursued against the Uighurs. That history suggests that
Beijing’s current “counterterrorism” campaign
will be only counterproductive — deepening a vicious cycle
that authoritarian minds are often unable to understand, let alone

And here is the strangest aspect of this story: China’s
“re-education” policy is a major attack on Muslim
people and their faith, Islam, yet the Muslim world has remained
largely silent. While the policy has been condemned by human rights
groups and the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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