Malaysia: Islamic Affairs Minister Praises China’s Muslim Concentration Camps

Uighur men make their way past a subway entrance after Eid al-Fitr prayers, marking the end of Ramadan, at the Id Kah mosque in Kashgar, in China's western Xinjiang region early on June 5, 2019. - While Muslims around the world celebrated the end of Ramadan with early morning prayers …
GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images

The Islamic affairs minister of Malaysia endorsed China’s internment camps used to weed out political dissent among its predominantly Uighur Muslim community, where survivors say they are forced to renounce their religion in favor of loyalty to the communist party, Malaysian media reported Thursday.

Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa led a Malaysian government delegation to visit China’s Uighur-majority Xinjiang province, reportedly home to hundreds of re-education or mind-transformation centers described as vocational facilities by Beijing.

China has denied assertions by the United States and non-government organizations (NGOs) that it has forced up to 3 million Muslim minorities into the detention centers, where they are subjected to extrajudicial incarceration, torture, communist indoctrination, forced labor, and the renunciation of their faith and native language, among other human rights abuses.

Beijing has repeatedly claimed the facilities are vocational centers aimed at combating religious extremism, terrorism, and separatism among the Uighur community in Xinjiang.

Minister Rawa appeared to take China’s description of the centers, described as “concentration camps” by the Pentagon, at face value, according to Free Malaysia Today (FMT).

Describing one of the camps in a Facebook post following his recent visit to Xinjiang, Rawa reportedly declared, “This center carries out industrial training activities and teaches a variety of skills such as sewing, legal class, arts and flower arrangement.”

“Moreover, Mujahid included the hashtag ‘model Malaysia,’ signaling that the camps are an example Malaysia should learn from,” the news website Says adds.

Chinese state media revealed this month that Beijing is seeking to export its anti-Muslim tactics to the world via the United Nations.

China is reportedly using the international body to legitimize the detention facilities.

Minister Rawa’s description drew the ire of some Malaysian activists.

FMT reports:

Dr. Ahmad Farouk Musa of the Islamic Renaissance Front questioned Mujahid’s use of the phrase “vocational and training institution” in his Facebook post about his recent visit to Xinjiang, where China has been accused of cracking down on dissent under the guise of fighting extremism.

“Surely Mujahid must have been a victim of the communist China propaganda,” Farouk told FMT.

Echoing a Reuters investigation and the Pentagon, the activist compared the concentration camps to “the Russian gulag,” referring to the forced-labor facilities used by the Soviets.

Musa told FMT:

More grueling confessions such as beatings, solitary confinement, torture, and being forced to swallow pork with wine, were recorded. And yet our religious minister came back with heaps of praises about how our Muslim brothers are being treated in Xinjiang with their vocational training.

Economic ties between China and some Islamic countries have fueled a reluctance by Muslim-majority governments to speak out against the systemic repression of Uighurs and other minorities at the camps.

Except for a few Muslim-majority countries, the Islamic world has been mostly silent about China’s Muslim crackdown.

The government of Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation on the face of the earth, has praised China’s mistreatment of Muslims.

Beijing’s ambitious infrastructure and technology project — the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — is expected to run through Malaysia.

Uighur jihadis have threatened to attack China. Xinjiang borders the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, which the Pentagon believes to be home to the highest concentration of terrorist groups, including Uighur jihadi organizations.

China claims Xinjiang is now safer as a result of its oppression campaign against Uighurs and other Muslim minorities.

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