Tag Archives: Islam

Uighurs Back in the News- How Much Do We Really Know?

We posted about the plight of the Chinese Muslim minority group the Uighurs some time ago. Then, the question was whether the US would resettle a small number of them freed by the courts in this country.

Now, they’re back in the news, and again, American media is largely playing catchup. This time, the Uighurs are making news in their homeland as they clash with Han Chinese in the western desert region of the country.

The violence, which flared over the weekend, has left 156 dead and more than 1000 injured. The Chinese government, apparently fearing whatever governments fear when people freely express themselves, have locked down the regional capital of Urumqi. They’ve also taken the trouble to cut off cellphone and Internet service. They want accounts of what’s been going on to be their accounts. However, things reportedly aren’t going exactly as the government has planned.

Hundreds of Uighur men, woman, and children are defying police and crashed a state run tour of the riot torn area for Chinese and foreign journalists.

Sometimes stage managing of human misery doesn’t work.

Xinjiang

The protestors want the government to release Uighur men they say have been detained after the violence started. Make no mistake. This is the worst ethnic violence in China for some time. And what is at its root? Could it be the inability of Uighurs to freely practice their Islamic religion without government interference?

There’s also the issue of continuing tense relations between the Uighurs and the Han. The Uighurs charge the Chinese government favors the Han when it comes to jobs and services. In fact, the rioting that took place last weekend reportedly began as a peaceful protest demanding an investigation into a deadly brawl between Uighurs and Han that took place thousands of miles away. Despite the paucity of information western news media have had access to, new technology has played as great a role in this situation is it has in Iran.

Published reports say the calls for protest by Uighurs were spread through Web sites and the most popular instant messaging program in China.

That would explain why the government prioritized shutting down cell service in the region, as well as cutting off Internet service. Hopefully, it won’t work.

Despite our ignorance and suspicion about Uighurs living in the US, their situation in China cries out for our scrutiny and concern.

Violence, be it religious, ethnic, racial, whatever, ought to be condemned. Despite the secretive nature of the Chinese government, they’re not immune to international calls for justice and fairness.

What’s happening to the Uighurs makes you wonder. What other people around the world are crying out for a level of basic humanity from their government and their fellow citizens?

Uighers.dancers

I’ll bet there are more than a few we don’t know about.

The question is, do we care?

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Words Into Deeds? Obama Speaks to Middle East

If you read, listened to, or watched President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo, you can’t help but be impressed with its comprehensive nature. He touched on virtually every issue of global concern in the Middle East, from Iran’s nuclear ambitions to respect for women. If you look closely at the early reaction, it seems to fall along predictable lines.

Barack Saudi medal

The question that comes out of all this is whether the Muslim world that Obama was speaking to will trust that American actions will mirror this president’s words. For some in the region, that could be a leap of faith (no pun intended). Many of the problems facing the Middle East, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, have raged longer than Barack Obama has been alive.

What then will this president do differently?

He’s called for candor in discussions about areas of disagreement. He also repeated America’s resolve to fight terrorism where it rears its head. Can Muslim countries now believe that Americans can differentiate between radical and moderate Islam? It’s one thing for the president, with experience living in a predominately Muslim country to talk about tolerance.

It’s something else to get that message to the heartland.

Then of course there’s the need for many of the Islamic countries the president was addressing to do likewise. The scourge of ugly stereotypes knows no border or boundary. Muslims harbor them against Americans, Israelis, and yes, even other Muslims. As President Obama points out, no one speech is going to  sweep away these years of misconceptions. Now, however, is a good time to start.

One area that the Middle East will be watching closely is whether this president can convince the Israeli government to stop the spread of settlements in the West Bank. This is an area of serious disagreement between Israel and the US, and places like Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan will be trying to figure out if Obama can convince Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to see things his way.

When it comes to translating words into deeds, that’s a first step. How he handles negotiations (if there will be any) with Iran will also serve as a litmus test. It was significant that President Obama mentioned that “no single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons”. Yet that’s exactly what America has been doing.

The Muslim world should find much to like about this speech. They are right  to want those words translated into concrete deeds, but that will come with time and effort on the part of all of the players.

How do you rate President Obama’s Cairo speech? Can he translate words into deeds?

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