The Canadian Council of Imams (CCI) expresses its concerns over the treatment given to the Muslims of East Turkistan, which is referred to as the “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region”. The persecution of Muslims in this region by the Chinese authorities has progressively worsened since 1949, and in recent years the conditions faced by this religious minority have grown unusually dire.
Uyghur Muslims have been banned from using Uyghur language and have been forcefully compelled to learn and communicate in Chinese. All religious practices such as praying, attending mosques, fasting in the month of Ramadan, wearing Islamic clothing, males growing a beard, females wearing hijabs, and giving Islamic names to their newborn are effectively banned. Thousands of mosques have been destroyed, copies of the sacred Qur’an and other religious texts have been confiscated and burnt, and young Muslim women are forced to marry those outside their faith traditions.
In addition, the entire culture of Uyghur Muslims is being effectively criminalized whereas over 1 Million Uyghur men are estimated to have been forced into concentration camps where they undergo “re-education” programs to disavow Islam and pledge loyalty to the Communist party.
Detainees in these concentration camps are routinely tortured, physically and mentally, in a continual effort to quash their religious belief. In September 2018, Human Rights Watch issued a 117-page report that presented evidence of “the Chinese government’s mass arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment, and the increasingly pervasive controls on daily life.”
Given the alarming state of persecution faced by Uyghur Muslims, the Canadian Council of Imams (CCI) calls upon the Chinese authorities to immediately put an end to the oppression against its ethnic minority, and for the international community to voice their legitimate concerns. CCI calls upon the Canadian government – that pride itself being a vanguard of justice – to condemn these brutal and inhuman actions and to play a more significant role in the preservation of human rights of the Uyghur ethnic minority.
The Canadian Council of Imams (CCI) also requests all Muslims, in particular, Imams, community leaders, academics, and activists to create more awareness on the suffering and persecution of Uyghur Muslims.