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When Stereotypes Get Out Of Hand: The Uyghur Crisis

By August 15, 2019 One Comment

  In the past several years, the stereotype “All Muslims are Terrorists” has become one of the most common in the United States. Since Donald Trump was elected as president in 2016, Islamaphobia has escalated greatly and left Muslim-Americans wondering why they are to blame for the terrorist actions of extremeist groups that they do not associate with in anyway. Islam has become a religion that is associated with violence, extremisim, and terrorism. Not only do Muslims in America have to face this demeaning typecasting, but the Uyghurs, a muslim turkic ethnic minority that originate from China’s Xinjiang region, face extinction because of it. 

Although Uyghurs have faced oppression for endless decades, Chinese persecution began to escalate to new heights in 2017, when the Communist Party of China opened “re-education camps” in which one to three million Uyghurs have been detained. In these 21st century concentration camps, the Chinese force Uyghurs to live their lives behind bars, torn from their homes and separated from all of their loved ones. Among the detained are renowned doctors, scientists, authors, and teachers. Young children and the elderly are not even spared. In these camps, Uyghurs are surrounded by tall barbed wire fences, heavily armed soldiers, and the most invasive of surveillance systems. The Chinese force Uyghurs to chant, sing, and listen to Chinese Communist propaganda day in and day out as a way to brainwash Uyghurs and “re-educate” them to become Chinese communists. Uyghurs are also forcefed pork and alcohol, used as guinepigs to test new medicines and chemicls, interrogated about their relatives in other nations, and even coerced to apologize for their faith and renounce Islam. Women are raped and mandated to have abortions in the case that they become pregnant. The slightest bit of resistance results in brutal punishments such as beatings, entrapment in a lightless room with no water or food for days on end, waterboarding, and even death. The one question that arises when learning about the Uyghur crisis is simply: What wrong did the Uyghurs do to deserve such treatment? The Chinese respond with the stereotype that we all know: “All muslims are terrorists”. 

The Communist Party of China justifies their deplorable actions by declaring that the Uyghurs as a “terrorist extremist group”. The Chinese use “muslims” and “terrorists” synonymously, and thus Uyghurs are muslims therefore they are terrorists. No where in the world has there ever been a terrorist group that is made up of millions of innocent people. If anything, the Chinese communists who are abducting Uyghurs from their homes and caging them as if they were animals are the ones who are terrorizing. Since Islamaphobia has pushed the United States to take counteterrorism measures such as Trump’s muslim ban, China is enabled to take measures of their own. The Communist Party of China is turning the lives of millions of Uyghur people into a living hell because it is their way of countering terrorism. Although the United States has more recently begun to shed attention to the Uyghur humanitarian crisis and propose policies in efforts to help the Uyghurs, they are not in the rightful place to be able to say that Uyghurs are not terrorists just because they are muslim, being that the United States has done this same time of typecasting before. 

Ultimately, Uyghurs are suffering for no fault of their own, but instead at the hands of a derogatory stereotype. The Uyghurs are the ones in absolute terror, but still they are the “terrorists”. Just like any other stereotype, declaring all Muslims to be terrorists is not only far from the truth, but extremely offensive. Just like any other person, Uyghurs have their own unique traditions and beautiful culture. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that Uyghurs are not terrorists in any way, and that the Chinese are simply using this type casting to allow themselves to eliminate a “threat” to the power of their communist party. Never has a stereotype led to such an unimaginably horrific outcome. The United Nations needs to do everything in their power to finally put an end to Uyghur suffering.

 

Schmitz, Rob. “Reporter’s Notebook: Uighurs Held For ‘Extremist Thoughts’ They Didn’t Know They Had.” NPR, NPR, 7 May 2019,www.npr.org/2019/05/07/720608802/reporters-notebook-uighurs-held-for-extremist-thoughts-they-didnt-know-they-had.

 

Brennan, David. “Muslim Re-Education Camps in China Are Needed to Avoid Terrorist Attacks, State Media Claims.” Newsweek, Newsweek, 7 May 2019,www.newsweek.com/china-re-education-camps-terrorism-muslims-xinjiang-us-islam-1417622.

 

“Chinese Uyghurs: International Terrorists or a Terrorised Minority? – AIIA.” Australian Institute of International Affairs, www.internationalaffairs.org.au/australianoutlook/chinese-uyghurs-international-terrorists-or-terrorised-minority/.

Itykin Uyghur is a 17-year-old young Uyghur Rights advocate.  Within her community, she has written several different OPEDs and articles advocating for Uyghur rights. She has also written a book called We Are Uyghur that follows a young Uyghur American girl throughout a journey where she becomes more confident about her culture and a young advocate herself. She will soon be completing her two book series with another book following a young Uyghur boy living in a Xinjiang concentration camps. Uyghur also hosted her own podcast called The Moonlit Talk that received an honorable mention in the annual New York Times Podcast Contest. Currently, she is working with a team of other advocates for the No Rights No Games Campaign that protests the Olympics 2022 in Beijing, China. She plans to continue her advocacy in the future to ultimately reach the goal of achieving human rights for Uyghurs.

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