In March 2020, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) published a report titled “Uyghurs For…
Contrary to Chinese government claims that there are 24 thousand mosques in East Turkestan (or Xinjiang), fewer than 15 thousand remain standing today. As revealed by a recent report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, more than 30% of mosques in East Turkestan have been destroyed since 2017—with an additional 30% damaged partially through the removal of Islamic architectural features such as minarets and domes.
East Turkestan’s ancient city of Kashgar is located in the heart of the Silk Road—an icon of Central Asian Islamic civilizations and the whole world. The Eidgah Mosque, located in the heart of Kashgar, has been a holy site welcoming thousands of Uyghurs on Eid day. Splendid scenes of prayer, joyous celebrations of Eid with Sama dance, and unity of Islamic faith across the region took place at the Eidgah until 2016, when the Chinese government began its genocidal crackdown on the Uyghurs.
With the arbitrary detention of millions of Uyghurs into Chinese extermination camps came the end of the joyous Islamic expression that surrounded the Eidgah for hundreds of years. Recent pictures of the mosque on Eid show a desolate terrain only populated by heavily armed Chinese soldiers. No Eid prayers and no Uyghurs. The Shahada sign above the entrance removed, only the Chinese Communist Party’s red flag hangs above the mosque—its suitably bloody color replacing the Eid celebrations of years past.
After the US, UK, Canada, and the Netherlands declared China’s abuse of the Uyghurs a genocide, the Chinese government began to paint a narrative of a “happy Uyghur life in Xinjiang” through propaganda videos. The Chinese state media video, released on the day of Eid Al Fitr, is a perfect example of such propaganda. This video pictures the Eidgah scene with hundreds of Uyghurs performing Sama dance for Eid celebration, but it is clear that their attempt to display “Uyghurs happily dancing” is fake because of the music playing from the top of the Mosque, which is not something that any Muslim or Jama’ah would ever allow. Additionally, the Sama dance and celebration is very coordinated and rehearsed, which is not the true nature of the Sama dance and celebration, which is a spontaneous event. As this video does not contain the scene of Eid prayer, it’s highly doubtful that Eid prayer even took place at Eidgah Masjid on Eid day contrary to the claim of Chinese government which states that Uyghurs are enjoying their religious freedom.
At a time when the Chinese government does not allow Uyghurs to fast and force them to eat pork and drink alcohol during Ramadan, a fake Eid illustrates that pressure is mounting against China for their ban of practicing Islam and imprisoning and criminalizing Uyghur for their Islamic faith.