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For China, Islam is a 'mental illness' that needs to be 'cured'

33 1 0
28.11.2018

Abdulla* goes to bed every night dreading that knock on the door, a knock he has heard in recurrent nightmares and in stories from neighbours. He expects it can come at any moment.

He is an ethnic Uighur and has always called Xinjiang his home. His forefathers lived and toiled atop this land for centuries, which the nascent communist Chinese government annexed in 1949. He is a father of two, a son and a daughter, and a devout Muslim - cautiously performing his five prayers every day behind the veil of secrecy his home temporarily offers him.

In the past months, several of his friends and colleagues have heard that dreaded knock on their doors and in the quiet of the night, disappeared with no trace or warning. Everybody, including Abdulla, knows where they have been taken and kept. But nobody knows for how long they will be detained, nor do they know if they'll ever come back home. Most are yet to return, and those who have returned are shells of their former selves, neighbourhood ghosts, warning others of what looms around the corner for Uighurs refusing to disavow Islam.

In August, a United Nations human rights panel reported that nearly 1.1 million Uighur Muslims were being held in concentration camps in Xinjiang - the autonomous region in western China, home to approximately 11 million Uighurs. Gay McDougall, who sits on the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, claimed that the imprisoned population could be as high as 2 million. Notwithstanding the estimates, the number of Uighur Muslims being arrested, uprooted from their families and lives, and imprisoned in concentration camps - for no other reason than being Uighur and Muslim - is rising with........

© Al Jazeera