Over the past year, Muslim organizations in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and elsewhere have become outspoken advocates for Uyghur Muslims, who are experiencing genocide at the hands of the Chinese government.
The big picture: Governments of many Muslim-majority countries have faced criticism for their silence in the face of China’s repression, but Muslim citizens are organizing and speaking loudly about the issue.
- As the Uyghur genocide has gained more international prominence over the past year, the fate of a once little-known ethnic group is becoming an issue of global concern.
What’s happening: In September, more than 40 Muslim organizations in the U.S. and abroad announced a boycott of Hilton, after reports that a planned hotel in Xinjiang would be built atop a demolished mosque.
- In December 2020, more than 70 Muslim student associations around the world and dozens of Uyghur groups wrote an open letter to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), comprised of 57 member states, urging them to denounce China’s abuses.
- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), one of the largest U.S. Muslim advocacy groups, regularly sends out press releases highlighting new reporting on the Uyghur situation in China and demanding action by U.S. lawmakers and the international community.
What they’re saying: “It’s important that all American Muslims stand together in fighting this genocidal campaign,” Robert McCaw, government affairs director at CAIR, said in an interview with Axios.
- Uyghur Americans have also been impacted by the genocide, making this an issue directly related to American Muslim communities, McCaw said.
- “A number of Muslim governments, though, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, have been silent on this issue,” he added. “Thus it is our responsibility as Muslim citizens and organizations to demand justice and accountability for Uyghurs in China.”
Jewish groups support
A group of more than 200 Jewish organizations, rabbis and synagogues have sent a letter to President Biden and top U.S. officials urging them to do more to oppose the Chinese government’s genocide of ethnic Uyghurs, according to a copy of the letter viewed by Axios.
What they’re saying: “The horror stories we are hearing of Uyghurs taken in the night, separated from their families, and put on trains to forced labor camps are all too familiar to the Jewish community,” the letter’s signatories state.
“We therefore urge you and your administration to take the concrete steps recommended by a coalition of leading human rights organizations (such as countering Chinese government propaganda and strengthening sanctions) and to increase the number of Uyghurs admitted to the U.S. as refugees.”
Holocaust Museum support
A report released today by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum states the museum is “gravely concerned” the “Chinese government may be committing genocide against the Uyghurs.”
Why it matters: A growing number of governments and other institutions are concluding the Chinese government’s policies toward the Uyghur ethnic minority aren’t just repression, but in fact constitute genocide.