City of Brass

City of Brass


American Muslims Call on Chinese Govt’ to Protect Religious Freedom

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The following is a press release issued by a group of muslim Americans regarding the oppression of the Uyghur in China. I am a signatory to the release and the forthcoming petition.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2009
Media contact: Wajahat Ali, 510-909-7506, wajahatmali@hotmail.com

American Muslims Call on Chinese Govt’ to Protect Religious Freedom

In response to the outbreak of violence in Xinjiang, China, in early July, 2009, American Muslims across the country will speak out for religious freedom in China during their July 31, 2009 Friday sermon

SAN FRANCISCO – A collection of American Muslim professionals, journalists and community and religious leaders, are calling for American Muslim leaders and religious figures to speak up during their Friday, July 31, sermon for religious freedom in light of the brutal crackdown by the Chinese on Uyghur Muslims in July and a history of repression of religious groups including Christians and the Falun Gong.

In response to the collective concern of the American Muslim community, imams and religious leaders across America have been asked to speak out for religious freedom in China and promote awareness of the plight of Uyghur Muslims to their congregations. Members of this collection of the American Muslim community are currently contacting imams and religious leaders at major religious centers and mosques, and are encouraging sermons addressing the importance of bringing attention and support to this embattled community. They are encouraging sermons that bring attention and support to this embattled community while also addressing the importance of religious freedom for all people, including Uyghur Muslims, and the right of all Chinese religious communities to enjoy self-determination and the preservation of cultural identity.

Resources to promote awareness about the struggle for religious freedom in China, the repressive situation of Uyghur Muslims, and the difficult situation in Xinjiang are available at the facebook group “American Muslims Support the Uyghurs on July 31.” These resources include an Uyghur Primer, an Open Letter on the Uyghurs and a sample khutba for July 31.

This call is being broadcast through various channels, including blogs, facebook groups, personal contacts, and traditional media. “Americans of all faiths have come together many times in the past to recognize the rights of religious minorities in China,” said Shahed Amanullah, editor-in-chief of the online newsmagazine altmuslim.com. “It is time that the plight of China’s Uyghur minority takes its rightful place alongside those just struggles.”

Specific calls to action for imams and religious leaders include:

1. Religious Freedom is a sacred right for all: American Muslims thrive because of the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom. The ability to freely practice one’s faith and belief system is a fundamental human right that should not be addressed lightly.
2. As Muslims we are obligated to support the oppressed and uphold the right of all to stay true to their spiritual conscience.
3. We support the Uyghurs in their struggle to maintain their cultural and religious identity. As Muslims we fully support their community’s effort to preserve their heritage and traditions while maintaining their place in Chinese society.
4. More broadly, every person has the right to the preserve his or her cultural identity.

Individuals and organizations helping to organize this call (partial list, titles for identification purposes only):

Wajahat Ali, Playwright, Attorney and Journalist, DomesticCrusaders.com
Aziz Poonawalla, Blogger at City of Brass (Beliefnet.com)
Shahed Amanullah, Editor-in-Chief of altmuslim.com
Zeba Iqbal, Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals
Hussein Rashid, Visiting Professor, Hofstra University, HusseinRashid.com

Mosques, imams, and organizations confirmed to have joined this effort (please join the growing list):

Muslim Public Affairs Council (Los Angeles; Washington, DC; New York, NY)
The Islamic Center at New York University – Imam Khalid Latif and Haroon Moghul

Resources for the media regarding Muslim efforts to promote awareness of Uyghur Muslims and their situation in China:

Facebook Call to Action
Uyghur Primer



  • Erwin

    We Christians would ask the same thing of the Muslim community. Please stop the oppression of Christians in the Arabian Peninsula, Pakistan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, etc. How can you ask this of the Chinese government if you cannot provide this same freedom to Christians?

  • Walker

    No ask, no answere. You can and have the right to ask all those countries listed by you, if you care about your religous freedom and belivers.

  • Andrew James

    China is sponsoring state terrorism and countries like Sudan, Iran, North Korea, Mianmar where there are genocides and people are brutally oppressed and killed. China is the sponsor and behind the most oppresive countries in the world and instigating violence in most of the Asian and African countries. They are doing the same thing to its ethnic minorities too. Wake up Americans,
    the Chinese already steal all the manufacturing jobs from you and your technology and very few basic manufacturing jobs left in the States and responsible for the disappearance of middle class and the necessary jobs to support them. They are responsible for causing this depression worldwide! They took your money and use it to genocide Uyghurs, Tibetans, the Darfur genocide, and to sponsor all the state terrorism and intimidating all the neighboring countries and inciting violence in most African and Asian countries! Wake up America, boycott all the Chinese goods and anything from China and support the fight of Uyghurs, Tibetans, Sudanese, Mianmar and other being oppressed and genocided minorities!!!

  • Gerald, Atlanta

    I am a third generation American citizen and I have visited Xinjiang 5 times in the past decade, spending about 1 year there total. My grandfather – may God have mercy on him – was a Hui who left China more than sixty years ago. I speak mandarin and understand Islamic faith, history, culture and practices. I have studied political philosophy and comparative government.
    This article is spot on in its description of the PRC government’s active religious persecution of Uighurs. Because Islam is also central to the Uighur culture, the persecution is also cultural. Forcing kids at school to eat oranges during Ramadan, banning the youth from entering masjids, locking up middle schoolers in jail for trying to learn how to read Quran, prohibiting Uighurs from international travel and domestic movement by confiscating passports and refusing hu kou changes, blatant ethnic discrimination by police and government intimidation of those who wear scarf and those who grow beards are all actions that I have heard – if not seen – first hand. The PRC fears separatism and dissent; like many other governments it prefers a stability imposed by brutal force over the perception that an indigenous people can somehow have legitimate grievances.
    To its credit, the PRC does have affirmative action programs for higher education as well as more lax childbirth policies for minorities, including Uighurs. The PRC wants to help Uighurs become literate in han language so that they may be enfranchised, empowered and integrated into greater han society. The PRC correctly boasts that since it has taken the reins on controlling economic development in Xinjiang for the past thirty years, residents of all ethnicities have benefited greatly in terms of standard of life, even if Hans have enjoyed greater economic prosperity than Uighurs. There are new roads being paved, highrises being built and infrastructure being developed where Uighurs once saw dirt roads and mud houses. But then again, this type of improvement in the standard of living is by no measure extraordinary when compared with other countries around the world.
    One has to view PRC’s ‘well-intentioned’ efforts in the proper context. The PRC is an authoritarian government with an atheist – if no longer Marxist – view of religion. A predominantly materialist / economic approach to the development of a society, as we are seeing in the PRC today, necessitates that preservation of heterogenous culture or religion take a backseat to maintaining the stability that the PRC believes economic development requires. Needless to say many Uighurs find preserving their religion and culture to be more important than the pursuit of money and economic development. It is with this clash of philosophy and modus operandi that the PRC has approached and governed the indigenous Uighurs in Xinjiang. In laymen’s terms, the PRC has taken on what we westerners call the “white man’s burden.”
    Civilizing a ‘backwards’ people who are naturally resistant to being pacified is no easy task. In the case of the Uighurs, they have a dogmatic attachment to Islam; they want to pray, fast, read a holy book in a foreign language and spend their life savings on performing a pilgramage. This contrasts sharply with the culture and aspirations of your average Han today: the pursuit of money and material wealth. The PRC has found that most – if not all – of the Uighur resistance to PRC pacification comes from those who espouse a deep faith in Islam. These are people who do not fear imprisonment nor death and therefore will speak out and even fight against what they rightly view as injustice. As a result, the PRC feels threatened by all religious Uighurs and redouble their efforts to suppress them by all means. It is unfortunate because while it is true that most resisters are religious, most religious people are not resisters. Currently, the PRC is rounding up young Uighurs all across Xinjiang. Those shown in a court of law to have been involved in the riots and deaths in Urumqi will be sentenced and put to death. Thousands more will be summarily and indefinitely detained. If the PRC does like it did in 1997, hundreds if not thousands of young Uighur males will just be disappeared.
    There is much doublespeak in PRC. There is talk of protecting and supporting minorities by subsidizing mosques and putting imams on the PRC payroll. But the Uighurs see this as the government interfering and controlling Muslim institutions. Go to a mosque in Xinjiang and try to get him to teach you about Islam between prayers. The imam will refuse to engage you. His role by PRC mandate is only to lead the five prayers in the mosque and preside over the friday prayer. The PRC ensures that most friday prayer sermons at large masjids are substantially void of substance. Ask a PRC official why praying or fasting is prohibited in school and the most intelligent reply you will hear is that students and their studies must be protected from the interruptions of prayer and the weakness that comes from fasting. Actually, on second thought, DON’T ask a PRC official. Snoop around a little in Xinjiang and you will quickly become persona non grata, because in case you have yet concluded, there is no freedom of speech there. PRC involvement in the institutions of Islam are not for the purpose of protecting nor propagating Islam but to rather gradually smother out the elements it finds disagreeable – essentially gutting it.
    With regards to Chinese patriotism and nationalism…
    Most Chinese nationals today will quickly come to the defense of the PRC government whenever it is criticized. There are many issues and currents at play here. Among them: the natural tendency to view international criticism of a domestic policy as a deconstructive attack, the complete lack of understanding of the situation in Xinjiang (because society and government in Xinjiang and Tibet are so different from other provinces), an ethnocentric approach to problem, the complete lack of dissent culture in China and just plain ignorance. By ethnocentric approach I mean that to the majority of Chinese citizens, little is more important than making money and helping their children get into the best college possible. By this rubric, han citizens feel the Uighurs are unappreciative of the extra points they get for college entrance exams and the substantial economic and industrial development in Xinjiang at the hands of the PRC. By plain ignorance, I mean that there is a whole generation of twenty to thirty somethings in China that never studied and know nothing about the history of the arbitrary, brutal and authoritarian nature of their government. For example, they do not know that fifty years ago, Mao had no idea what he was doing and that millions of people starved for it. They do not understand that while the PRC is gradually reforming itself, it can at a moment’s notice unleash a very brutal authoritarian action upon its own citizens (as has happened many times in Xinjiang and Tibet over the decades).
    While there have been forced abortions and sterilizations, I have not seen a level of violence against the Uighurs in the past decade that warrant using the word genocide. The word – except when used figuratively (e.g. cultural genocide) – should be respectfully reserved for the Armenians and the Jews; its use here by those defending the PRC’s actions is a red herring and or some type of polemic digression from the reality that Uighurs are being repressed and oppressed in their own land.
    According to several Uighurs and Huis I have spoken to recently, there has been substantial improvement in the past decade in Xinjiang (but the recent riots will set back progress for months if not years). For the sake of all Chinese citizens, I hope the PRC finds more just ways to govern its people and its land.

  • maha

    Erwin,
    In Pakistan, Christians are treated with respect. I don’t know where you got the idea they are oppressed there. They have their churches and freely celebrate their holidays without a problem so far as I know. My parents are Pakistani and they told me this. I’d like to know your source.

  • zain khan

    Erwin
    We Christians would ask the same thing of the Muslim community. Please stop the oppression of Christians in the Arabian Peninsula, Pakistan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, etc. How can you ask this of the Chinese government if you cannot provide this same freedom to Christians?
    Me:
    the arabian peninsual, pakistan, indonesia, kazakhstans are puppets of US power. so Mr Erwin complaint to US about misstreating christian in their clonies.

  • Mrs Edith Kabbah

    Dear Sir,
    My Greeting to you,
    I do recognised the surprise this letter will bring to you, most especially as it comes from a stranger. I am Sister Edith Kabbah. We are from Republic of Sao Tome. I am married to Dr. Ibrahim Kabbah who was a wealthy cocoa merchant in Ivory Coast for years before he died in the year 2004. We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only two weeks. Before his death we were both faithful Muslim.
    Since his death I decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the holly Quaran is against. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of ($12Million U.S. Dollars)in Bank here in Abidjan Presently, the fund is still with the Bank . Recently, my Doctor told me that I have serious sickness which is cancer problem. The one that disturbs me most is my stroke sickness.
    Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to a Christain/Islamic institution or individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein. I want a Islamic/Christain that will use this fund for orphanages home, hospital, mosque, school,
    propagating the word of mighty Allah and to endeavour that the house of mighty Allah is maintained. The holly Quaran made us to understand that Blessed is the hand that gives.
    I took this decision because I don’t have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Muslim and I don’t want my husband efforts to be used by unbelievers. I don’t want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly way. This is why I am taking this decision. I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the mighty Allah.
    As stated in the holly Quaran (Surah xxxvi Yasin) Thou wariest only him who followeth the reminder and fearieth the beneficent in secret to him bear tiding of forgives and a rich reward. I don’t need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health hence the presence of my husband relatives around me always. I don’t want them to know about this development. With mighty Allah all things are possible.
    As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the Bank here in Abidjan.
    I want you and the Christain/Islamic institution to always pray for me because the mighty Allah is my shepherd. My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Muslim. Whosever that wants to serve the mighty Allah must serve him in spirit and Truth. Please always be prayerful all through your life. I will need the below information to enable me forward it to my bank so that they will contact you immediately:-
    (1) Your complete names (2)Your house address
    (3).Company name if any. (4).Private telephone number
    (5) Private fax number (6) Private email address
    (7) Your brief profile (8) Your Photograph
    (9) Your bank account.
    For more information, any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing another Christain/Islamic or individual for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I Stated herein. Hoping to receive your reply.
    Please contact me on my email;(edithkabbah_1@yahoo.com.au)
    Thanks,
    Sister Edith Kabbah.

  • Mrs Edith Kabbah

    Dear Sir,
    My Greeting to you,
    I do recognised the surprise this letter will bring to you, most especially as it comes from a stranger. I am Sister Edith Kabbah. We are from Republic of Sao Tome. I am married to Dr. Ibrahim Kabbah who was a wealthy cocoa merchant in Ivory Coast for years before he died in the year 2004. We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only two weeks. Before his death we were both faithful Muslim.
    Since his death I decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the holly Quaran is against. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of ($12Million U.S. Dollars)in Bank here in Abidjan Presently, the fund is still with the Bank . Recently, my Doctor told me that I have serious sickness which is cancer problem. The one that disturbs me most is my stroke sickness.
    Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to a Christain/Islamic institution or individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein. I want a Islamic/Christain that will use this fund for orphanages home, hospital, mosque, school,
    propagating the word of mighty Allah and to endeavour that the house of mighty Allah is maintained. The holly Quaran made us to understand that Blessed is the hand that gives.
    I took this decision because I don’t have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Muslim and I don’t want my husband efforts to be used by unbelievers. I don’t want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly way. This is why I am taking this decision. I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the mighty Allah.
    As stated in the holly Quaran (Surah xxxvi Yasin) Thou wariest only him who followeth the reminder and fearieth the beneficent in secret to him bear tiding of forgives and a rich reward. I don’t need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health hence the presence of my husband relatives around me always. I don’t want them to know about this development. With mighty Allah all things are possible.
    As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the Bank here in Abidjan.
    I want you and the Christain/Islamic institution to always pray for me because the mighty Allah is my shepherd. My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Muslim. Whosever that wants to serve the mighty Allah must serve him in spirit and Truth. Please always be prayerful all through your life. I will need the below information to enable me forward it to my bank so that they will contact you immediately:-
    (1) Your complete names (2)Your house address
    (3).Company name if any. (4).Private telephone number
    (5) Private fax number (6) Private email address
    (7) Your brief profile (8) Your Photograph
    (9) Your bank account.
    For more information, any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing another Christain/Islamic or individual for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I Stated herein. Hoping to receive your reply.
    Please contact me on my email;(edithkabbah_1@yahoo.com.au)
    Thanks,
    Sister Edith Kabbah.

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