China maakt geen grappen met moslims.
Billboards in front of mosques and parks stipulate that minors should not grow beards or wear religious clothing, from headscarves to T-shirts with crescent moons. “The penetration and spread of religious extremist thought is the greatest threat to social harmony,” read signs in Urumqi. “All China’s ethnicities should embrace one another like the seeds of a pomegranate.”
“Han hua is the reason Uighurs are unhappy,” a Han mother told me inside the compound. She’d moved to Xinjiang a year ago and enrolled her daughter in a local kindergarten comprised of 32 Uighurs and 19 Han children.
“They don’t play together. It’s a bilingual school, but that just means Uighur children learning Mandarin, not the other way around,” the mother said.
(Photo by Alice Su/VICE News)
The scene is a testament to the grandiosity of China’s Silk Road plan, not only in budget but also in engineering ambition. The CCP’s economic planning will defy nature itself, it seems, and nothing can stand in its way, whether glaciers, mountains, rivers, or deserts. Nothing, that is, except the Uighurs.
I drove along the road with Abdullatif, a Uighur driver who pointed out the Kyrgyz and Tajik autonomous counties on the way, sub-territories of Xinjiang reserved for smaller, non-Uighur minorities.
“Some of these ethnic groups laugh at Uighurs, saying we don’t have our own country,” he said. “You’ve probably heard the talk about ‘East Turkestan [the Uighur separatist name for Xinjiang]. But look, those –stan countries are dirt poor. China built all the roads in this region. Chinese people excavated all the materials too.”
“Uighur police are even worse than Han police. Give these kids a uniform and they think they can do whatever they want. If you have any Islamic thing on your phone, they’ll take it and report you,” Abdullatif said, adding that local police sometimes framed farmers by saying there were Quran apps on their mobile phones and then confiscating their electronics.