By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
17 August 218
Although it was known earlier also, but the United Nations taking notice of detention camps in China has made it the subject of international chatter. The UN did not mince words and called it extremely discriminatory for the million plus Uighur Muslims detained in these camps. Scholars specialising on Chinese law have already told us that the size of these camps have been growing over the years. For the Chinese though, these detention centres remain centres of ‘re-education’ where ethnic Uighur Muslims are told how to re-integrate back into the ‘Chinese’ society.
Thus the entire onus of integrating into the Chinese mainstream is on the Muslim minority, who have seen their land inundated by the majority ethnic Han Chinese. In fear of becoming minority in their own land and losing their cultural markers, the Uighurs took solace in religion but then even that becomes a problem as it is emblematic of separatism for Chinese authorities. The Chinese mainstream and the state do not think or they do not want to acknowledge that they are part of the problem.
What was perhaps more amazing was that the Chinese did not deny any of the allegations except saying that these were not detention but re-education centres where criminals were being kept for the express purpose of reforming them. So from being ‘astray’, now Muslims are being defined as criminals. The next logical step will perhaps be to put all of them in jails. There are even reports of mosques being demolished in the Xinjiang province apart from periodic curbs on religious expression such as those during Ramzan. And yet, the Muslim world is silent. We did not hear even a whimper of protest from the Muslim world. Where is the rage, the slogans of Muslim being oppressed when we have a real situation in China where Muslims are actually being oppressed?
Let us assume that China is too far down the horizon and that many in the Muslim world may not be aware of what is going on there, although it hard to be believe this lack of information in a world satiated with information. But for a moment let us assume, this is the case but then what about the Saudi invasion of Yemen which is happening right under the watch of the whole Muslim community. Saudi Arabia has for long treated Yemen as its colony and even a slight hint of Yemen’s autonomy makes them nervous. So under the pretext of fighting Iranian militias, the Saudis have not just armed the opposition but have actual military presence in that country. Its air force is free to bomb the country at will and yet there is no international outcry. More recently, the Saudis bombed a school bus carrying children which led to scores being dead. Any civilised nation would have expressed remorse for this wanton killing of children or at least constituted an inquiry committee to look into such allegations. Not the Saudis. Not only did they not express remorse, they in fact justified the killings saying that these children were enemy combatants.
Compare this with the statement of Taliban militants who killed children at school in Pakistan and one finds that there is no difference between the two. And yet, we are being increasingly led to believe that Saudis want to be in the forefront of fighting terror and extremism. But then if Saudi Arabia can sit in the human rights council at the United Nations, then perhaps anything is possible.
What is more astounding perhaps is the silence of the Muslim world in relation to the both the issues highlighted above. So far there have been no fiery speeches after Friday prayers; there have been no street marches and no protests in front of the Chinese embassy. Pakistan, which loses no chance to deride India over human rights abuses in Kashmir, has been completely silent over the Chinese treatment of Muslims. But then every state has its compulsion.
However, what about the religious players within Pakistan who are not part of the state? Why are they completely silent over the issue? Or is it that China has bought their silence too? Children being killed in broad day light in Yemen on the pretext of being enemy combatants and yet the whole Muslim world is silent? Don’t we repeat ad nauseam that the Prophet forbade killing of children and women even during war? Then why is it that we are silent? Just because the perpetrator happens to be the leader of the Sunni world? This must make us ponder whether the Muslim outrage is reserved only against the Jews and Christians? If such a thing as killing of innocent children would have been done by the state of Israel, would we be silent? How many protests would have been organised to condemn it?
Moreover, we would have been definitely joined by our leftist friends in the condemnation of Israel and its benefactor America. The overall silence in this case also points to a certain collusion of interests between the orthodoxy within the Muslim world and the leftists who today are supposedly the conscience keepers of the world. This is absolutely reprehensible. And equally reprehensible is the hypocrisy of the Muslim world.
Next time when there is Muslim rage on the street, I would think twice before offering my unqualified solidarity. I will think whether this rage is genuine or sponsored in the interest of a particular regime and religious order. I will think how this rage fits into maintaining the hegemonic power of Saudi Arabia within the Muslim world. I will think why they did not express the same rage when the Saudis killed innocent children in Yemen. And I will think hard whether the Muslim anger against Israel and the West is sponsored by a sinister politics whose ultimate aim is to generate sympathy and support for a criminal regime like Saudi Arabia.
Arshad Alam is a NewAgeIslam.com columnist
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