Millennium Post

Difficult Ramzan

At the time of the year when Muslims across the world voluntarily exercise their right to practice their religion, the month of Ramzan commands respect and compassion for all those who observe fast and mindful abstinence form indulgence and practice healthy restraint, for the third time in a row, the Uyghurs of China's Xinjiang province have been deprived of the freedom to celebrate Ramzan. Uyghur Muslims under China's draconian rule can neither fast nor pray during this Ramzan also. The Uyghur people have accepted Islam as their state religion for over a thousand years and for this reason have been at the receiving end of the atheist Chinese government's anti-Islamic and anti-Uyghur policies. The common practice in Ramzan is to abstain from consuming food and water from dawn to sunset for a month but in brazen violation of the sentiment and convention, Chinese authorities have categorically ordered restaurants to stay open and have restricted access to mosques during Ramzan to discourage traditional observation of the holy month. Chinese authorities' recurring act of banning fasting among Uyghurs during Ramzan in recent years have drawn widespread criticism from rights groups who appeal to international communities for support to their cause. In the call for greater global attention, activists and American politicos urge for condemnation of China's network of political "re-education camps" that have "assisted" nearly 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring "strong religious views" and "politically incorrect" ideas since April 2017. The Chinese government has been making concerted effort to "brainwash" Uyghurs (and central Asian Muslims) in the troubled north-western province of Xinjiang in order to align them with the outlook and the policy the Chinese state officially endorses. This "brainwash" is conducted by detaining Muslims in the "re-education camps" for varying lengths of time. The detainees include women (Uyghur wives) of Pakistani traders and professionals based in Gilgit-Baltistan province. At these camps, the detainees are trained (or forced) to abandon lifestyles and beliefs they harbour owing to their religious affiliation. Picking on innocuous seeming women is a tactical move as the intention behind it to force the influence on a generation at a time at least. In this regard, the stakes for China and Pakistan are high given the China Pakistan Economic Corridor funded to the tune of US$45 billion, a crown jewel of China's Belt and Road Initiative. Interestingly, Pakistan, the only Muslim homeland in the world raises no voice in protest. It is for the international community to take action for China locking up millions of Uyghurs in concentration camps. It is also for the Muslim world to hold China accountable for its anti-Islamic policy and crimes against humanity.

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