As a part of its efforts to “sinicize” Islam, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) reportedly forced Muslims in the country to eat pork and drink alcohol during the recent lunar new year celebration. According to Islam, the consumption of both items is forbidden.
Mistreatment of the Muslim minority
Chinese officials had invited Muslims from the Xinjiang region to celebratory dinners on Lunar New Year’s day. Pork was served during dinner and the invitees were asked to eat it or risk being sent to the infamous detainment camps. Attempts to make Muslims eat pork reportedly started from last year. Typically, Chinese Muslims do not celebrate the Lunar New Year since it is linked with polytheistic native beliefs.
“Muslims like us, the Uyghurs, the Hui, and the Kazakhs, don’t do that… But people have been sticking up New Year poetic couplets at the doors of Uyghur and Kazakh households, and giving them pork… If we won’t put up the couplets or hang lanterns, they say we are two-faced, and they send us to re-education camps,” a Kazakh woman said to Radio Free Asia.
“Two-faced” is an allegation used by Chinese officials against Muslims and other minorities who refuse to cooperate with the government’s attempts to “assimilate” them into Chinese culture. The CCP’s idea of assimilation involves forcing Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other minorities to give up their unique cultural identity, language, and beliefs. Instead, they are made to declare loyalty to the communist ideology and speak Mandarin. Almost a million Uyghurs have been forced into the detainment camps over the past few years. A few thousand are also believed to have been made to work against their wishes.
However, the Communist Party Chairman of Xinjiang, Shohrat Zakir, claims that the detention camps are merely re-education centers aimed at improving the lives of minorities and educating them about the three evils of separatism, extremism, and terrorism. “We are teaching the national common language, law, and regulations to aware them about the country and world as well as their legal rights, obligations, and duties,” he said in a statement (The Epoch Times).
Turkey steps in
Meanwhile, Turkey has broken its silence regarding the Uyghur issue and has publicly denounced the Chinese regime for persecuting the community. By doing so, Turkey has become one of the few Muslim majority countries to stand against the mistreatment of Uyghurs.
“Practices violating the fundamental human rights of Uyghur Turks and other Muslim communities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have worsened, especially during the last two years, and have been brought to the agenda of the international community. In particular, the official declaration of the ‘Sinification of All Religions and Beliefs’ policy in October 2017 was another step towards the goal of eliminating the ethnic, religious, and cultural identities of the Uyghur Turks and other Muslim communities in the region,” Hami Aksoy, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement (MFA.gov.tr).
Turkey’s new stance is believed to be triggered by the death of Abdurehim Heyit, a famous Uyghur poet who was sentenced to eight years in prison for one of his poems. Prior to his arrest, Heyit’s last overseas trip was to Turkey. He had visited the country to promote the works of another popular Uygur poet, Abdurehim Otkur.