Time for China to understand Islamic civilisation

Opinion  |  Phar Kim Beng
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | If news reports are anything to go by, China – which the late political scientist Lucian Pye described as a "civilistion pretending to be a state" – is facing a serious issue with the practice of Islam within its borders.

Between 800,000 to two million Uighur Muslims are undergoing "reeducation" in internment camps in Xinjiang.

No one knows if they are being mistreated or well-tended to, but it would appear unnatural to have a huge number of Muslims being told to think, imbibe, and digest nothing else but the teachings of Communism – more precisely, the doctrine of Xi Jinping, now part of the Chinese constitution.

As a civilisation, China is used to the penetration and perforation of foreign influences, from Buddhism to Marxism; the issue rests with the scale and depth of such ideas.

This is why it is somewhat peculiar that the current Communist leadership has deemed it necessary to single out the Uighurs, especially when Islam took root there centuries before coming to Southeast Asia.

There are several reasons why China now considers Islam a threat. Not unlike the West, it tends to see Islam through the optic of destabilization.

Beijing's coinage of the "three evils," namely terrorism, separatism and religious extremism, lumps Islam together with the independence movements of Tibet and Taiwan. This cannot be further from the truth.

Indeed, there are no signs that the Uighurs have any grand design to break away from China completely. Thus, it makes no sense why Beijing would want to subject nearly the whole Muslim population in Xinjiang to incarceration.

Something's gotta give

No one knows the degree of this incarceration, but given the recent spending on police batons, electronic cattle prods, handcuffs, and pepper spray – which have little to do with 'education' – China had better stop the abusive practices for its own good.

For starters, the much acclaimed One Belt One Road (Obor) initiative snakes through the northern and southern half of the Muslim world. The "road" passes through Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyghystan, Uzbekistan, Iran and Azerbaijan before reaching...

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