When it comes to violation of religious freedom in China, the plight of Christians has generated the greatest international concern. Persecution of the Islamic Uighurs is rarely reported in the free press.
According to a Uighur who preferred not to be named, since the September 11 attack on the Twin Towers, the Chinese communist regime has wantonly violated the religious freedom of Uighurs under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism.
One tactic of the communist regime is to prohibit people below the age of 18 from entering the mosque in Xinjiang. The measure fundamentally severs the Uighurs from Islam and is a serious violation of their religious freedom.
The regime also requires the Ahung (or Imam) of the Xinjiang mosque to make a daily report on the attendance of the people who come for prayers, including their numbers, ages, gender, and whether they are cadres. Such monitoring by the Ahung generates anxiety among Uighurs and creates a split between the Ahung and the believers.
The term Ahung comes from the Persian language. It is used to address the Islamic religious teachers in Persian-speaking regions. In China, this term refers to religious personnel who serve in the mosque and is equivalent to the clergymen in the Christian church.
The Communist regime also restricts Islamic books, including the Koran, from entering Xinjiang. The regime also prohibits its party members and cadres from believing in Islam and from entering mosques.
The Uighur interviewed feels that such regulations are completely irrational. Even though party members and cadres cannot openly practice Islam, they can still follow the religion in their hearts, and no one can stop them from praying at home.
The communist regime also has a discriminatory regulation against Uighur female students wearing head scarves in school. The Uighur individual feels that such a regulation is irrational and also insensitive to the climate in Xinjiang, which has sandstorms. Also offensive is the construction of large-scale grape wine breweries in Xinjiang, despite the fact that Islam prohibits alcohol.
Based on official statistics, Xinjiang has more than eight million Uighurs. However, the Uighur interviewee points out that the actual number of Uighurs is nearly ten million. The majority live in Nanjiang, where they lead hard lives. Most of the Uighurs believe in Islam. The Kazaks, who are the ethnic minority in Xinjiang, also believe in Islam.
Our interviewee points out that the communist regime has different policies in dealing with the Uighur and the Hui Muslims. The regime's suppression of Uighurs is especially severe and will only produce resistance.
Jia Qinglin, Chairman of the Standing Committee Member of the CCP's Central Political Bureau, conducted a seminar with heads of religious groups in Beijing on January 22, 2006, before the Chinese New Year. At the session, Jia Qinglin spoke of the importance of resisting foreign forces that use religion to infiltrate the country. Apparently this reflects the regime's intention to continue to violate the religious freedom of people in China.