Chinese officials force Muslims to make impossible choice

As part of their observance of the lunar calendar’s Year of the Pig, Chinese authorities in parts of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are reportedly forcing Muslims to eat pork or risk their freedom.

But for many Muslims, pork is “haram” in the Islamic faith, meaning that they consider it unclean and are forbidden from eating it.

Chinese officials are going door-to-door handing out pork to Muslim residents and inviting them to celebratory dinners where pork is served, Radio Free Asia reported.

The pork is reportedly presented as a gift by the authorities to celebrate the Lunar New Year. It is actually part of a campaign to promote Han Chinese culture and suppress the ethnic identities and religious practices of Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs and members of other Muslim minority groups.

An impossible choice

Not only do many Muslims consider it unclean to eat pork, but many Chinese Muslims do not observe the Lunar New Year in the same way as do many Han Chinese (the dominant ethnicity in China). Instead, many follow the Islamic calendar.

If Muslims refuse to eat the pork presented to them by the authorities, they are reportedly labeled as “extremists,” and are threatened with being sent to internment camps.

Thus, by presenting Muslims with pork (a staple of Chinese cuisine) on a Chinese national holiday, authorities may be forcing some Muslims to choose between their religion and their freedom.

Ongoing cultural repression

Woman walking past painting of red flag featuring hammer and sickle (© Wang HE/Getty Images)
Uyghurs living in Xinjiang walk past Chinese Communist Party symbols and images every day. (© Wang HE/Getty Images)

Inside camps in the Uyghur Autonomous Region, Chinese authorities force detainees to renounce Islam and embrace the Chinese Communist Party. Detainees are required to recite Communist slogans and sing songs praising the Chinese Communist Party. Failure to quickly learn these lessons leads to beatings and food deprivation.

Currently, China has detained at least 1 million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs and members of other Muslim minority groups in internment camps.

China claims that the internment camps  are for “re-education” and are only for “anti-terrorism and de­-extremification work”; however, reports from survivors of the camps show that this is false.

The purported “counter extremism” rationale is merely a pretext to abuse Muslims and members of ethnic minority groups who are practicing their faith or adhering to their cultural traditions.

Recently, countries have been criticizing China for its treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups. Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called it a violation of “the fundamental human rights of Uyghur Turks and other Muslim communities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.”

“Uyghurs are held against their will in so-called re-education camps, where they’re forced to endure severe political indoctrination and other awful abuses,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the 13th annual Values Voter Summit. “Their religious beliefs are decimated.”