The World’s Silence for Uyghur Muslims


Maryam Pervaiz, News Editor

A black-colored niqab, a hijab, a beard, and Muslims are labeled as extremists. Chinese officials made that very clear when the world found out about their secret of bringing back concentration camps that we thought were long gone, but are now affecting Uyghur Muslims.

Uyghur Muslims are an ethnic group who are mostly located in Xinjiang, a region in northwest China. According to PBS News Hour, since its annexation in 1949, China has controlled this part of their country, but people that still live there identify as East Turkestan. As far as the concentration camps go, China claims that there have been many extremist attacks from Uyghurs in past years. Due to that, in 2017, the government prohibited Uyghurs from practicing Islamic modesty (having a long beard and wearing the niqab). And here we are now, just hearing about the millions of Muslims being tortured.

As a female Muslim, living in America, I often find myself in multiple discriminating encounters with other people. A “normal” day for me when I choose to wear the hijab, the eyes of multiple people would land on me, but most importantly on my hijab. I felt uncomfortable but remembered I am not here to please them. Surprisingly, it didn’t affect me as much as this news did. When I heard about the concentration camps in China, which, apparently to some, is helping Muslims to “re-educate” them on Chinese culture, I felt attacked and ignored. Not only was I uncomfortable reading articles on this topic, I wondered what a “normal” day was for an Uyghur Muslim.

Anushay Chaudhry, a writer from The Pitt News, shares the horrifying experience of a Muslim Uyghur survivor, Mihrigul Tursun. Reading that article, I felt chills down my spine. This person was a woman, a mother to newborn triplets, a daughter to her parents, and most importantly, she is a human being that was handcuffed in the airport for absolutely no specific reason given. There is a part in which Tursun says, “While being tortured, I muttered, ‘Oh Allah,’ accidentally, which means ‘help me God. They told me the Chinese Communist Party had more power than Allah. They told me Allah could not save me.” They tied her feet and hands, drugged her, and took her children away; only for one particular reason, the difference in religion. The fact that Tursun is a Muslim, bothered so many individuals to the point that they took away her basic human rights.

Muslims across the nation are horrified over this news. Personally, as someone who identifies as a Muslim, I always ask myself the same questions, “When did we decide that it is okay to hate a person based on their religion and why are we silent about it?”

We pride ourselves on treating everyone equally, but where is that ideology when it comes to Muslims? Are we going to ignore this just like the post-9/11 discrimination, hate crimes, and false imprisonment Muslims have gone through? There have been multiple cases of Muslims ending up in jail and facing death threats, due to their racial background after 9/11 occurred. There are Muslim based countries like Syria and Yemen, who are still suffering from wars and neglection, but yet, fail to be recognized in the media. When will we break our silence on this? You tell me.