The World Uyghur Congress, an advocacy group for the persecuted ethnic minority, accused the Communist Party of China on Thursday of staging fake celebrations for Eid, the Muslim holiday celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan, to disguise its brutal oppression of Muslims.
Chinese state media outlets published several articles on Thursday and Friday with photos allegedly showing Muslim celebrations throughout China in observance of Eid, intended to prove that Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities who celebrate the occasion were free to do so without Communist Party intervention. In reality, Chinese officials have for years imprisoned ethnic minorities considered especially devout in concentration camps, whose populations at their peak are believed to have totaled up to 3 million people. Reports throughout Ramadan this year indicated that few Muslims were fasting out in the open, as the religion mandates, for fear of being branded an “extremist” and disappeared.
The U.S. government, under both Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden, has branded the campaign to eradicate Islam and Uyghur culture generally in China a “genocide.” Along with policies meant to outlaw cultural and religious practices, survivors of the camps say the Communist Party has implemented a campaign of forced abortions and mass sterilization of Uyghur women meant to limit the growth of the population.
Dolkun Isa, the head of the World Uyghur Congress, told Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Thursday that China was using “deception, fabrication, and disinformation” to convince the world that freedom of religion existed in Xinjiang, the western region most of China’s Muslims call home.
“One shining example is that on the first day of Eid, China forced Uyghurs to go to mosques to attend a Chinese flag-raising ceremony, sing the Chinese national anthem, and then pray and dance in order to create a facade that suggests Uyghurs enjoy religious freedom,” Isa said.
Isa accused China of organizing “staged performances” of Islamic practices in the face of a global backlash against its genocide of the Uyghur people.
“Until China officially closes the concentration camps, releases the Uyghur detainees, apologizes for its policy of genocide, pays reparations to the Uyghurs and other indigenous Turkic peoples, and allows an unfettered international investigation,” Isa told RFA, “no one will accept its staged performances of Uyghur happiness and freedom.”
The Chinese state-run Global Times newspaper published images of Uyghurs dancing “happily” at a government-organized Eid reception, noting that the Party invited foreign diplomats from friendly states to relay the display of joy and freedom under communist rule to the rest of the world.
“Foreign diplomats watched the salat for al-Eid in the Yanghang Mosque of Urumqi, Xinjiang Islamic institutes, Id Kah Mosque in Kashi, the Shaanxi Grand Mosqu in Yining and Jama Mosque in Hotan on Thursday morning,” the Times reported. “In the video, local Muslims kneel in lines, perform their morning prayers under the guidance of the imams and listen to lectures on doctrines.”
“A video taken by a young man in Yining who introduced their life during the month of fast was also streamed at the Thursday reception, which refuted previous rumors of Xinjiang ‘banning’ Muslims from fasting,” the newspaper claimed.
The Global Times condemned “outside slander” from America and other countries for dismissing China’s attempts to hide its persecution of Muslims in Xinjiang.
“While Xinjiang residents greet ‘Eid Mubarak!’ to each other and enjoy the one-day holiday peacefully and happily with their family and friends,” the state propaganda outlet claimed, “the U.S. and some Western countries continue to play dumb to peddle lies on China’s Xinjiang.”
Addressing condemnation of the Uyghur genocide — and a United Nations event dedicated to discussing the issue this week — Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying accused the United States on Thursday of having a “deplorable” human rights record and claimed that Adolf Hitler was inspired by the United States to commit genocide against Jewish people in Europe.
“Pulitzer Prize winner John Toland wrote in his book Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography that Hitler attributed his idea of concentration camps and his practice of genocide to his study of British and American history,” Hua claimed. “In the US today, racism is still a systemic and persistent existence penetrating every aspect of life.”
Hua also disparaged the World Uyghur Congress as an “out-and-out anti-China separatist organization” and referred to Isa, without evidence, as a “terrorist.”
Chinese outlets also claimed that foreign diplomats and media have access to repressed regions in Xinjiang, without noting that reports even from those sources indicate alarming abuses of Muslims by the state there.
Last week, the Associated Press (AP) published a report based on a visit to Kashgar, Xinjiang, in April revealing Uyghur Muslims feared fasting for Ramadan after years of imprisonment, torture, and disappearances.
“A decade ago, 4,000 to 5,000 people attended Friday prayers at the Id Kah Mosque in the historic Silk Road city of Kashgar,” the AP observed. “Now only 800 to 900 do, said the mosque’s imam, Mamat Juma. He attributed the drop to a natural shift in values, not government policy, saying the younger generation wants to spend more time working than praying.”