UPDATED 7:51 AM PT — Friday, Dec. 28, 2018
A prominent Muslim poet in China is speaking out ahead of what he fears could be a crackdown on his people.
“Every human has dignity and a breaking point — if the persecution is too unbearable, something unpredictable could happen,” stated poet Cui Haoxin. “As I said, there might be a disaster.”
China has been increasing pressure on many religions since President Xi Jinping took power. In the past year, over a million Uighur Muslims have been detained, Buddhists have been forced to pledge allegiance to the Communist Party, and churches have been shut down.
While China’s second-largest Muslim ethnic group has yet to face persecution, there are signs the Hui may be next. Officials ordered the demolition of the Hui’s landmark Grand Mosque, but backed down in the face of protests.
“The fate of this great mosque is certainly tied to the fate of Islam in China, because now it seems like we have gone back to decades ago; people are not allowed to study religion or conduct religious activities,” Haoxin explained.
The ethnic group faced severe persecution during the cultural revolution, which ended in 1976, but the group has largely supported the Communist Party since and has been spared further crackdowns — unlike the Uighur Muslims.
The poet has been censored and detained for speaking out.
“Most people don’t know the truth, information is still being seriously censored,” he said. “Some people hear what happened and they feel fear and sympathy, but they dare not express their opinions.”
One million Muslims and Hui have been detained in reeducation camps in China as Western China remains under intense surveillance from Beijing. The poet said this reminds him of Nazi concentration camps.
“At the gates of concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, there were slogans that said ‘labor sets you free’ and now, reeducation camps are officially called training schools, labor training schools, technical training schools, vocational training schools — it is just too similar to the saying ‘labor sets you free,’ it is unavoidable for people to associate and compare the two,” stated Haoxin.