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Uighurs of Xinjiang China

Photo by Stacey Irvin

Uighurs of Xinjiang China
The Uighurs were a branch of Turks organized into 10 clans and lived primarily a nomadic life in the steppes of Mongolia north of China.
In the mid-eighth century they became the most powerful nomads in the region

Muslim Uighurs of Xinjiang CHINA
Uighurs (also Uyghurs) (wee-gers) are ethnically Turk Sunni Muslims.
The Uighur people preferred to be called Uyghurs instead of Turks.
Uighurs are a Turkish ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Today, Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Region of China.
Most of those in the southwestern area, the Tarim Basin.
Outside of China, communities of Uyghurs exist in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey.
About 45% of the population of Xinjiang is Uighur, 40% Han Chinese.
Uighurs fear erosion of their traditional culture.

Throughout history, the term Uyghur has taken on an increasingly expansive definition.
Initially signifying only a small coalition of Tiele tribes in Northern China, Mongolia, and the Altay Mountains, it later denoted citizenship in the Uyghur Khaganate.

Today Uyghurs are considered to be the descendants of a number of people, including the Uyghurs of Mongolia.
The inhabitants of Xinjiang were not called Uyghur before 1921/1934.
Use of the term Uyghur was unknown in Xinjiang until 1934
The Buddhist Yugur of Gansu call themselves the Yellow Uyghur.


Uighur men have several wives

Traditionally Uyghur families have included one husband, but multiple wives.
This practice, which is gradually disappearing, is in conflict with the marriage law of China.
The marriage law also calls for a minimum age at marriage of 20 for men and 18 for women.
Uyghur people consider males to be adults at age 12 and females at 9 years. Marrying at an early age continues to be common practice.

Why is polygamy allowed in Islam?

The Uighurs of Xinjiang are Sunni Muslims
The Uighurs are, in the main, a sedentary, village-dwelling people who live in the network of oases formed in the valleys and lower slopes of the Tien Shan, Pamirs, and related mountain systems. The region is one of the most arid in the world; hence, for centuries they have practiced irrigation to conserve their water supply for agriculture. Their principal food crops are wheat, corn (maize), kaoliang (a form of sorghum), and melons. The chief industrial crop is cotton, which has long been grown in the area. Many Uighurs are employed in petroleum extraction, mining, and manufacturing in urban centres.

Large numbers of Han (ethnic Chinese) have moved into Xinjiang, especially since the 1990s. This produced economic disparities and ethnic tensions between the Uighur and Han populations that sometimes resulted in protests and other disturbances. A particularly violent outbreak occurred in July 2009, mainly in Ürümqi, in which scores of people were killed and hundreds more were injured.

CHINA Xinjiang Province

China Blames Syria Rebels for Xinjiang Violence


Uighurs released from Guantanamo
March 17, 2013
Chinese Uighur Muslims released from America's Guantanamo military prison in 2009 thought they would be living on this remote island for a few months, maybe a year.
But 3 years later, they are still in Palau, and the patience is running out. The government has cut Abdulahad's monthly stipend, so he can't pay his bills, not even those from the Palau Power Utility Corp., where he works as a night watchman. So he and his family, inadvertent inhabitants of one of the most beautiful islands in the Pacific, are learning to make do without electricity.

Uighurs were swept up in Afghanistan as suspected terrorists and held without trial in Guantanamo for 8 years.
Onde made his way to Turkey, but the others remain stuck on Palau because no one else will take them.
China regards Uighurs as terrorists, making it impossible for them to find refuge anywhere else.
The Uighurs want Xinjiang China to become independent, and some have staged bombings and other attacks, mostly against police, government and military targets.


       DAILY NEWS with prophetic analysis

The Uighurs
By Stacey Irvin
For centuries, the majority of traditional inhabitants in the vast region of Northwestern China have been Uighur, a Turkic muslim ethnic group whose language, religion and culture contrasts with that of the Han Chinese. In recent years, the Chinese government has launched a rapid campaign to develop its western regions, which has led to a dramatic influx of China’s majority Han into Xinjiang Province. As demographics change and industry begins to boom, traditional inhabitants are faced with increasing marginalization and pressure to assimilate.

In the summer of 2009, racial and political tension in Xinjiang Province received international attention due to ethnic violence in the provincial capitol, Urumqi. Even with increasing media attention, most people in western countries are not familiar with the Uighur people. This unfamiliarity is compounded by the fact that Chinese media often portrays Muslim groups in Xinjiang as violent extremists, a label that plays into Western post-9/11 fear and prejudice.

I first traveled to Xinjiang in 2000, less than one year after the the Southern Xinjiang railway reached the city of Kashgar. At times it was often hard for me to believe that I was still traveling in China. Uighur culture was clearly dominant and intact in most Xinjiang towns and cities despite new construction of modern Chinese buildings and wide boulevards on the outskirts of cities throughout the province.

I returned to Xinjiang in 2004 to witness many changes and a shift in population and cultural influence. In Kashgar, ancient homes in parts of the Uighur Old Town were being demolished to make way for new commercial shopping areas near the Id Ka Mosque in the center of town. In 2009, the government announced that it will accelerate demolition of ancient Uighur residential areas in Kashgar. The government claims that this centuries-old part of the city is not earthquake-safe. Large apartment complexes are planned to replace what many argue should instead be preserved and designated a UNESCO world heritage site.

My main desire has been to get to know the Uighur people, and preserve through photographs the spirit of their culture and traditional life in the face of an uncertain future. I am hopeful that more people will come to appreciate and empathize with the humanity and dignity of the Uighurs.


Muslim suicide attack in Beijing
Oct 31, 2013
China arrests 5 people in connection with a suicide car crash at the Forbidden City gate opposite Tiananmen Square, which killed two tourists and injured 38 people. They blame Uighurs. - debka

CHINA - 16 dead in clash in Muslim Xinjiang
Dec. 16, 201
3  Police coming to detain suspects in Shufu, a town in the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic Xinjiang province near the Silk Road town of Kashgar, were attacked by a gang armed with explosives and knives Sunday, according to government media. Two police officers were killed, 14 “thugs” shot dead and two were detained. In October, three Xinjiang Uighurs ploughed into crowds of tourists in Tiananmen Square, killing two people and injuring forty. - debka

China Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti on separatism charges
26 February 2014
Chinese authorities have formally arrested a prominent scholar of China's Uighur Muslim ethnic group and charged him with separatism, his wife says.
Ilham Tohti, an economics professor in Beijing, has been critical of China's ethnic policies. He has been detained by police since last month.
The US and EU have expressed concern over Mr Tohti's detention.
The Muslim Uighur group mostly live in Xinjiang, in China's far west. There are sporadic clashes in the region.
The government traditionally blames extremists for the violence. Uighur activists, on the other hand, point to ethnic tensions and tight Chinese control as triggers for violence.

China blames Uigur separatists for 33 dead in knife attack
March 2, 2014
At the Kunming train station in southern China, more than 10 assailants slashed scores of people with big knives and machetes,
killing 29 and injuring 143 in an attack which Beijing blames of Uigur separatists.  
Police fatally shot four of the assailants, captured one and were searching for the others. Two of the attackers were women.

27 killed, 109 injured in China railway station knife attack
The Chinese authorities have confirmed at least 27 dead and 109 others injured in a railway station attack on Saturday in southwest Chinese city of Kunming. A gang of unidentified people carried out "premeditated, violent terrorist attack" using knifes as the primary weapon at the Kunming Railway Station at around 21:00 local time, said the city police. Local television station K6 said police shot dead a number of the perpetrators at the train station. The official Xinhua news agency said the identities of those shot dead had yet to be confirmed. More than 60 victims in the attack have been hospitalized. Police are still investigating in the station.

Bangkok bomber
Thai authorities suspect Uighur link
August 19, 2015
-  Bangkok shrine attacker was part of a network, the work of more than one person.
Thai authorities are investigating whether Uighur Muslims from far-western China staged the bombing.
Thailand has deported dozens of Uighurs to China sparking widespread criticism.
Police are not ruling out anything including Thai politics.


Chinese jihadists in Indonesia
Jan 6, 2016
-  Indonesia working with China to stem a flow of Uighur Muslim terrorists.
Indonesia arrested 13 men, including a Muslim Uighur with a suicide-bomb vest. Forum Index -> World NEWS
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