Beijing [China]: In a white paper, China on Sunday defended its policies and claimed that Islam was forced upon Uighurs — the ethnic community native to Xinjiang.
“The Uighur people adopted Islam, not of their own volition … but had it forced upon them by religious wars and the ruling class,” South China Morning Post quoted a document released by the State Council Information Office as saying.
The report also claimed that Islam is not the only faith practised by the ethnic community.
“Historically, the Uighurs’ ancestors were enslaved by the Turks,” the Chinese documents claimed, citing a history of conflicts between the two which dates back to the eighth century.
China has come under the international scanner for its policies against the community in the region. The United Nations estimates that at least one million Uighurs and other Muslims are currently being held at internment camps in Xinjiang.
Experts have slammed China’s claims that the facilities are training and re-education centres which aim at imparting vocational skills to the people and eradicating religious extremism in the region. No official figure regarding the number of people at these facilities has been released.
France, UK, Germany, Australia, Canada — amongst others — are all signatory to a letter calling on China to halt the mass detention of Uighurs in the region.