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In the last issue, I wrote about the limits of suffering vicariously, and that
true solidarity requires constant engagement and practical acts of solidarity.
In this editorial, I have invited a young Muslim activist of Uyghur roots
to reflect on the present moment. Aydin Anwar was my student at a summer
program in Istanbul last year at Ihsan Academy. She is a courageous,
articulate, and inspiring voice for the horrendous violation of the basic
humanity and rights of the Uyghur Muslims by the occupying Chinese
government. Governments of Muslim countries are quiet. In a report two
weeks ago, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
expressed alarm at the “numerous reports of detention of large numbers
of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities held incommunicado and
often for long periods, without being charged or tried, under the pretext
of countering terrorism and religious extremism.” Over a million Uyghur
Muslims have been sent to concentration camps, according to Uyghurs as
well as independent observers. A Human Rights Watch report noted that
millions of Xinjiang residents were having their DNA, fingerprints, and retinal
scans collected; earlier in 2017, the region’s Muslims were banned from
wearing long beards or veils in public.
We Muslim academics, intellectuals, and scholars need to listen to and
strengthen voices like that of Aydin Anwar. In fact, we must follow her lead.
I will let her speak for herself; I hope you can hear the disciplined rage and
resolute voice of her words as you read these meticulously documented
A Brewing Genocide in Occupied East Turkestan
I sat in a room with around thirty refugee women in Istanbul during
summer 2016. We were listening to Munawwar, an Uyghur activist and
Islamic teacher who fled China in the 1990s, explain the meaning of a
chapter in the Quran before ending the session with a prayer. Soon into ...