Religious freedom & Inter-Faith harmony in Xinjiang

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The factual Xinjiang Papers (Part-VIII)

By Makhdoom Babar
President & Editor-in-Chief
At Urumqi, I was taken to Grand Mosque by a local Muslim friend Mr. Aleem who works with a local organization. We offered prayer and my friend translated the Sermon given by the Imaam for me as my Chinese skills are not that good. The Sermon was all focused on welfare for humanity, peace and tranquillity and the importance of sacrificing in the name of Almighty and caring and sharing. The Mosque that is around 150 years old was full of the people who had come to offer prayer. I was told by Aleem that there were over one hundred Mosques in Urumqi city alone, with around ten to fifteen being the Grand ones. I was really impressed to see the extraordinarily maintained double storey Mosque.
I was told by Aleem that the Chinese government was responsible for the maintenance and furnishing all the Mosques in the city. This centrally air conditioned and centrally heated Mosque that was very well furnishing with thick carpets and the amenities was a perfect example to judge as to how much dedication, care and respect was the Chinese government extending towards the religious facilities of Muslims.
Aleem dropped me back at hotel as he had to rush for being with his father for the slaughter of the lamb that they had bought for sacrificing on Eid. He told me that the local government had made arrangements at different spots in the city to facilitate the Muslims for sacrificing the animals in a very organized and comfortable manner.
Contrary to what the so-called biggest democracy of the world is doing to Muslims across India for slaughtering cows or calves and for eating Beef, Xinjiang Muslims had full religious freedom to choose the animal of their liking to slaughter for sacrifice and to eat on their will. It was a very sound message for those in the Western audiences who have been lashing out at China with baseless stories of denying religious freedom or even social space to Muslims. It was not only a message for Western governments and their ‘adopted’ journalists and media houses but was also a crystal clear proof that the Chinese government was giving all freedom to their Muslim nationals and providing them slaughtering facilities, just when in the ‘Darling of West’, India, Muslim natives were being butchered by the Indian police and BJP goons for even eating beef, setting apart slaughtering the animal and the shameless Western Media and their patrons in Western governments were keeping mum over.
I found that more than half a million animals were sacrificed in Urumqi on this Eid without any official or social restrictions.

A view of one of the Grand Mosques in Urumqi, maintained by the govt authority where hundreds of Muslims offer prayer freely every day

I was amazed to notice that despite the animals were slaughtered all over the City in such a huge number, yet the city remained clean and neat as usual as government had made special arrangements for assisting Muslim citizens in removing the offal, etc of slaughtered animals after the sacrificial rituals were over, Throughout the city, Muslim families were having BBQs both inside and outside their residences and they were also joined by their non-Muslim Chinese friends and neighbors.

The Factual Xinjiang Papers (Part-VIII)

Young Uyghur Muslims reciting Holy Quran & taking lessons at an Urumqi Mosque, macking mockery of the news that Quran not allowed in Xinjiang

I was invited by Aleem to his residence for Eid Dinner where he lives along with his parents and sister Munawar who teaches English language at a government University in the city. When I reached at Aleem’s residence, I was again amazed, to see that many of the local non-Muslim Chinese friends of Aleem and his family were also present at the grand dinner. All of them had brought different Eid gifts for Aleem and his family. All the dishes were prepared by Aleem’s mother. Very tasty and mouth-wateringmealswere cooked and had a lot of varieties. I asked Aleem’s sister Munawar about the relations between the Muslim and non-Muslim residents of Urumqi to which she said that the presence of so many non-Muslim Chinese friends from their neighbourhood at this grand Eid dinner wasself-explanatory about the relation. After celebration Eid with Aleem’s family, I was invited by one of my Chinese friendMr. Zhang to celebrate the Chinese Moon cake Festival, a traditional Chinese festivity. There, I was again pleasantly surprised to see that many Muslim locals were present at Mr. Zhang’s place with lot of gifts to celebrate this festival.
Muslim Uyghurs along with their Chinese friends making star-shaped lanterns for kids at Zhang’s house on Eve of Mid-Autumn Festival

This gave me a complete picture to validate that there was complete inter-faith harmony amongst the Muslim and non-Muslim Chinese in Xinjiang and that the Muslims were very comfortably enjoying the immense religious freedom, with in fact a great support by the government of China. I am now planning to experience the Fasting in Xinjiang during the coming Ramadan to share with my readers and to confront the fake propaganda in this direction.