The Chinese are continuing to speak out of both sides of their mouth. While stating they will “tolerate” quiet religious practice and expression, in reality they still see small religious expression, such as wearing headscarves, as “extremist” and use that toward total suppression of any religion.
By Ilham Tohti, translated by Cindy Carter, published: April 26, 2015
Since the July 2009 ethnic unrest in Xinjiang, religious fervor within China’s Uighur community has been rising steadily. Whether in traditional villages in southern Xinjiang, among urban officials and intellectuals, or even on college campuses in Beijing, there has been a quiet upsurge in religious conservatism—and the percentage of youthful conservative adherents is at an all-time high. Some observers have noted that, during religious services at mosques, it is not uncommon to see young people praying silently, with tears streaming down their faces. This is a social signal worthy of our close attention.
As an overt symbol of a people’s cultural and ethnic identity, religion comes second only to language; in the most extreme circumstances, religion can become the final spiritual refuge for a people.
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