It is often forgotten that violence doesn’t just breed itself, something the Chinese government might not be considering as it continuously oppresses the Uyghurs, a traditionally Muslim group centered in the Western region of Xinjiang.
China has banned “abnormal” beards and wearing veils in public places in Xinjiang to combat Islamic extremism in reaction to the recent violent outbursts in the region.
The new laws also disallow Uyghur children to attend state schools and ban marrying solely through the church.
Ironically, it is the years of this abuse, oppression and marginalization that has led the Uyghurs to become aggressive toward the Chinese government.
There has been an increase of Chinese military in the area, and racist laws have been set in place that systematically stifle Uyghur class mobility, access to education and cultural practices. These laws have spiked tensions, which are most likely the reason why there have been violent demonstrations.
Radical Islam is a result of years of oppression, be it be the United States government in the Middle East, or in this case, the Chinese government. If Beijing wants to combat extremism, it should not have given the Uyghurs a reason to feel cornered in the first place — they believe their culture is eroding, disappearing like so many others thanks to colonialism and imperial egos. Some see fighting as their only solution, even though it’s not.
Violence is never the answer, and radical Islam has been pushed to scary extremes. It cannot be ignored that it is a reaction, and if we want to prevent an expansion of Islamic State fighters, it might be a good idea to leave the Uyghurs alone. They have no records of violence other than the times when China had taken over the land — the first of which was in the 18th century, and the other in the 1990s when Communist China refused to lose Xinjiang.
As we enter a new wave of racial and religious tensions that have been growing and growing, not only in the Middle East but at a global scale as well, I think it is important to be mindful of the fact that it is the oppressed who create uprisings and protests. Maybe if Muslim communities all over the world were not put into boxes, told how to act and how to look all for the purposes of capitalism, democracy and government interest, we wouldn’t be on the brink of starting the same old war in China.