NEW DELHI: The latest reportage coming from China's Xinjiang on confiscation of Quran has left the entire world in a shocking state. Radio Free Asia reported a few disturbing incidents from Xinjiang wherein Muslims were forced to dispose of the holy Quran in rivers to save themselves from torture by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government.
The recent such incident was reported from Aidarly village of the Panfilov district of Almaty where a few Muslims disposed of their Quran books in the Ili river. The report stated that such incidents have become a common trend in China. A similar had recently taken place in Khorgas river as well.
According to reports, to prevent the holy book from being desecrated by the CCP, and to save themselves from being tortured for possessing it, Muslims in Xinjiang have been disposing off the Qurans in rivers flowing towards Kazakhstan, after wrapping it in plastic sheets.
They believe that this way, they not only will be able to save themselves but also can keep the piousness of the book alive and eventually protect their religious teachings.
Over the past few years, especially after Xi Jinping came to power, numerous incidents of seizures of Quran after search operations and consequent punishment to Muslims in Xinjiang have been reported frequently.
As the seizures accelerated, Muslims began to bury their Quran under the ground. However, Chinese authorities were smart enough to discover the trend, leading to the unfortunate incidents of mass dispose-offs of the holy book. Besides the Quran, Chinese officials in Xinjiang also seized other religious documents and books.
Muslims, who refused to hand over the Quran to the government authorities or attempted to hide it, ended up being sent to training camps or receiving the punishment of up to three years of imprisonment.
Uighur and Turkic scholars see this trend as China’s attempt of ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Xinjiang and wipe out Islamic culture. They further argue that such incidents are leading to an extreme identity crisis for Muslims of the region as their ethnic culture is falling prey of Chinese attempts of sinicization.
Instead of raising concern over the human rights abuse, China's United Front Works Division (UFWD) officials have begun to raise the issue as a potential threat to China's image in the Muslim world and advocate for a strong censorship on reportage of such news. Activists have argued that the CCP intelligentsia has suggested the Chinese government accelerate the process of sinicization of Quran — a process where CCP promotes its own version of Quran by morphing the actual one.
Ridiculously, it is believed that the Chinese government is working on strengthening patrols along the rivers flowing from Xinjiang to neighbouring countries to seize the Qurans flowing in the rivers. It also plans to intensify restrictions on the movement of Uighur and Muslims from other Turkic communities outside China.
Amidst everything, the most striking fact is the utter silence of Muslim countries like Pakistan and Turkey on the persecution of Muslims and the elimination of their religious symbols. Prominent Uighur activists like lishat H Kokbore have argued that a country like Pakistan is doing the biggest danger to Islam by keeping mum over persecution of Muslims in Xinjiang and have criticised the Imran Khan government for doing a deal with China to keep quiet on the issue in return of economic favours. Earlier, when asked about the persecution of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang by the CCP government, Imran Khan refused to comment and argued that he did not know much about the matter.
Nevertheless, the Muslim Ummah is increasingly getting aware of the hostile condition of Muslims in Xinjiang and this particular issue also seems to have got a huge traction in the Ummah. Scholars believe that the incidents of floating Quran in rivers has started to get traction across the world and is certainly going to impact its Belt and Road (BRI) initiative as these incidents might disgruntle Muslim countries to a great extent. Similar apprehensions are being expressed by UFWD Officials in their op-eds and publications, suggesting the government to censor such news at any cost.
Above all, the bravery displayed by the Muslims of Xinjiang in protecting the dignity and purity of Quran by ensuring that it reaches safe hands, has definitely touched the hearts of countless individuals. These stories have already become a part of folklore in the Uighur society.