The Colorful Propaganda of Xinjiang

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China is in the midst of a crackdown on what it describes as “terrorism driven by religious extremism”. The campaign is focused on the western province of Xinjiang, home to China’s Uighur ethnic minority who are predominantly Muslim.

The government believes religion breeds terror and has been trying to control religious expression in the region by imposing rules on the Uighur community. Critics say it is exacerbating the terror problem.

The murals below were painted on the walls next to a mosque in the old Silk Road district of Kashgar where 90% of the population are Uighur.

They show what the Chinese government deems as acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. They are a striking example of Chinese propaganda and highlight the government’s crude portrayal of ethnic relations in Xinjiang.

Inspirational posters are a fairly common sight in Chinese cities, advocating things like hard work and team spirit. It is not clear who painted these posters, but their presence implies they have some kind of official approval…(read more)

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China’s War on Terror Goes All-Out Cuckoo Bananas on Conservative Islam in Xinjiang

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SHACHE COUNTY, China – The month of Ramadan should have been a time of fasting, charity and prayer in China’s Muslim west. But here, in many of the towns and villages of southern Xinjiang, it was a time of fear, repression, and violence.

“Throughout Ramadan, police intensified a campaign of house-to-house searches, looking for books or clothing that betray “conservative” religious belief among the region’s ethnic Uighurs…”

China’s campaign against separatism and terrorism in its mainly Muslim west has now become an all-out war on conservative Islam, residents here say.

“…women wearing veils were widely detained, and many young men arrested on the slightest pretext, residents say.”

Throughout Ramadan, police intensified a campaign of house-to-house searches, looking for books or clothing that betray “conservative” religious belief among the region’s ethnic Uighurs: women wearing veils were widely detained, and many young men arrested on the slightest pretext, residents say. Students and civil servants were forced to eat instead of fasting, and work or attend classes instead of attending Friday prayers.

A veiled Muslim Uyghur woman walks past a statue of Mao Zedong in Kashgar in Xinjiang province. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

A veiled Muslim Uyghur woman walks past a statue of Mao Zedong in Kashgar in Xinjiang province.                               (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

The religious repression has bred resentment, and, at times, deadly protests. Reports have emerged of police firing on angry crowds in recent weeks in the towns of Elishku, and Alaqagha; since then, Chinese authorities have imposed a complete blackout on reporting from both locations, even more intense than that already in place across most of Xinjiang.

“Chinese police have cracked down on the wearing of beards and veils, in observance of Ramadan, in Muslim-majority Xinjiang province.”

A Washington Post team was turned away at the one of several checkpoints around Elishku, as army trucks rumbled past, and was subsequently detained for several hours by informers, police and Communist Party officials for reporting from villages in the surrounding district of Shache county; the following day, the team was again detained in Alaqagha in Kuqa county, and ultimately deported from the region from the nearest airport. Read the rest of this entry »