January 12, 2015 | Terrorist attack in Xinjiang, PRC

Every nation has a right to stop terrorism – what if the methods used lead to more?

You would have to be living on Pluto to not know that China is engaged in a genocide against its own Uyghur Muslim population. At least a million people are in concentration camps – called ‘vocational training centres – and all traces of Islam are being eradicated across the region.

Some locals are incarcerated if their furniture is not ‘sinicised’ enough (I am NOT making this up!).

keriya aitika 2017
keriya aitika 2018
Before and after photos of a mosque (Photos: Shawn Zhang)
Do not jeopardise Chinese investments

While some countries are rightly condemning this humanitarian disaster, some are remaining silent. And some of those electing to say nothing include many Muslim nations which one would assume would want to support their Islamic brethren in Xinjiang. Nope. These countries do not want to jeopardise Chinese investment, especially the vast One Belt One Road infrastructure scheme.

So why is China undertaking this campaign to wipe out centuries of Islam from its lands? They say it is to stop terrorism. And they are right – but to a very limited extent.

The truth is that there have been attacks carried out by Uyghur Islamist extremists in China in recent years. It is equally true that Uyghurs did join Islamic State (ISIS) and other terrorist groups (as many as 5,000) and there is a terrorist group made up largely of Uyghurs called the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

And attacks carried out by Uyghur terrorists have unfolded in China.

Best buddies: Saudi Arabia’s MBS and China’s Xi Jinping (Photo: Handout)
Terrorist attack in Xinjiang, PRC

On this day in 2015, local police shot dead what they labelled as 6 “mobsters” who had attempted to detonate explosives in Xinjiang (there must be some meaning to the term “mobster” in Chinese). Authorities had acted on a tip-off about “a suspicious person carrying an explosive device”: an axe-wielding individual tried to attack police officers and set off an explosive device, prompting the officers to shoot him. Police were later attacked by five “thugs” who sought to detonate the explosive.

To me this was clearly an attempted terrorist attack and China had a right, and a duty, to respond as it did. We all expect our governments to protect us from incidents of this nature.

But what China is doing now in Xinjiang is not only wildly disproportionate to the threat (btw discussed in much greater detail in my 3rd book The Lesser Jihads) but is for all intents and purposes a genocide in the making. Authorities may not be killing Uyghurs on a scale seen in the Holodomor and the Holocaust but they are killing the culture of millions of people.

Actions like those taken by China not only do not stop terrorism they create the conditions under which it breeds. Everyone knows this: why doesn’t China?


The Lesser Jihads: Bringing the Islamist Extremist Fight to the World (2017)

The Lesser Jihads examines conflict through the lens of Islamist terrorist groups. Bringing together in one volume different conflicts where terrorist groups are active worldwide, this text introduces the world and thinking of Jihadists while highlighting a number of seldom reported cases.