Washington: The Muslims in China, a majority of them based in Xinjiang- an autonomous territory in the northwest of the country, are losing their identity and are forced to renounce Islam.
According to estimates cited by the United Nations and United States officials, one million Muslims are being held in Chinese internment camps at present, reported The Atlantic, an American magazine.
The magazine claims, “Former inmates-most of whom are Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic minority-have told reporters that over the course of an indoctrination process lasting several months, they were forced to renounce Islam, criticize their own Islamic beliefs and those of fellow inmates, and recite Communist Party propaganda songs for hours each day. There are media reports of inmates being forced to eat pork and drink alcohol, which are forbidden to Muslims, as well as reports of torture and death.”
China has been selling a very different narrative to its own population. Although the authorities frequently describe the internment camps as schools, they also liken them to another type of institutions, namely hospitals.
Mentioning about the excerpt from an official Communist Party audio recording, which was transmitted last year to Uighurs via a social-media platform WeChat, and transcribed and translated by Radio Free Asia, The Atlantic reported, “Members of the public who have been chosen for re-education have been infected by an ideological illness. They have been infected with religious extremism and violent terrorist ideology, and therefore they must seek treatment from a hospital as an inpatient. . The religious extremist ideology is a type of poisonous medicine, which confuses the mind of the people. . If we do not eradicate religious extremism at its roots, the violent terrorist incidents will grow and spread all over like an incurable malignant tumour”.
“Religious belief is seen as a pathology in China”, explained James Millward, a professor of Chinese history at Georgetown University, adding that Beijing often claims religion fuels extremism and separatism.
“So now they’re calling re-education camps ‘hospitals’ meant to cure thinking. It’s like an inoculation, a search-and-destroy medical procedure that they want to apply to the whole Uighur population, to kill the germs of extremism. But it’s not just giving someone a shot-it’s locking them up for months in bad conditions, ” he added.
China has long feared that Uighurs will attempt to establish their own national homeland in Xinjiang, which they refer to as East Turkestan.
In 2009, ethnic riots that broke out here resulted in hundreds of deaths, and some radical Uighurs had carried out terrorist attacks in recent years.
Chinese officials have claimed that in order to suppress the threat of Uighur separatism and extremism, the government needs to crack down not only on those Uighurs who show signs of having been radicalized but on a significant swath of the population.