Wild Pigeon: A Uyghur Fable
July 3, 2005 12:37 PM   Subscribe

Wild Pigeon: A Uyghur Fable. The Chinese Muslim writer Nurmuhemmet Yasin has been sentenced to ten years in prison (contains story spoilers) for writing this short story about pigeons, which was considered subversive by Chinese authorities.
posted by bobo123 (13 comments total)
Incredible. Here's another story of an Uyghur man imprisoned and tortured - for wearing a beard. Here's Amnesty International's 2004 report on East Turkestan. It says that "Tens of thousands of people continued to be detained or imprisoned in violation of their rights to freedom of expression and association, and were at serious risk of torture or ill-treatment. Thousands of people were sentenced to death or executed."

Interestingly, "China continued to use the international 'war against terrorism' as a pretext for cracking down on peaceful dissent". More good work from the war on terrorism!

For general (non-political) information and images of the region: the Uyghur Photo Site. Big map of the Uyghur Autonomous Region here.
posted by taz at 2:54 PM on July 3, 2005

Yeah, the Uyghurs are really getting fucked, and the Chinese know we're not about to take up the Uyghur cause when we're more and more dependent on China's economy—we'll agree to call them terrorists and turn our backs.

Not that anyone cares, but the Uyghur title of the story is Yavay käptär.
posted by languagehat at 3:12 PM on July 3, 2005

There are about 25 million Muslims in China. The population of Saudi Arabia in 2001 was only about 23 million.

Imam Bukhari, the compiler of the collection of hadiths considered to be most authentic, was also from China.

Beautiful photos of Chinese Muslims (Click on Travel)

The work of a Chinese calligrapher of Arabic
posted by leapingsheep at 4:06 PM on July 3, 2005

25 million Muslims in China? That sounds frightening to me. Maybe the Chinese government is smart to suppress them.
posted by joedharma at 4:24 PM on July 3, 2005

All right, all right, I take that back and apologize. Don't flame me.
posted by joedharma at 4:28 PM on July 3, 2005

If he'd written this in Saudi Arabia, they'd have cut off his head.
posted by delmoi at 4:29 PM on July 3, 2005

It's intresting. Its very preachy but it could have served as communist propaganda in the 1940s as well as anti-communist propaganda in the 2000s.

But I can see why they would be upset with this kind of work..
posted by delmoi at 5:04 PM on July 3, 2005

Wow, two great links leapingsheep
posted by jamesonandwater at 5:20 PM on July 3, 2005

Imam Bukhari, the compiler of the collection of hadiths considered to be most authentic, was also from China.

He most certainly was not; he was from Bukhara (as his name implies), which has never at any time been part of China (it's currently in Uzbekistan, which is something of a travesty since it's the great historic center of Persian culture and should be part of Tadjikistan—thanks, Soviet nationality policy!). Furthermore, as a cultured Persian he would have had little interest in the backwoods Turks of Sinkiang/Eastern Turkestan (the people now called "Uyghurs"). Frankly, the Uyghurs are pretty peripheral to Islamic culture. But that doesn't make them any less deserving of human rights.
posted by languagehat at 6:27 PM on July 3, 2005

That should be "the great historic center of Persian culture in Central Asia."
posted by languagehat at 6:44 PM on July 3, 2005


I'm no expert. Is this information disputed?
posted by leapingsheep at 6:48 PM on July 3, 2005

Most of it is reasonably accurate. But the part about the alleged mission to China in 650 is legend presented as fact (as is often the case on the internet). Philip K. Hitti, in History of the Arabs, says:
Legend makes Sa'd ibn-abi-Waqqas, the conqueror of Persia, the envoy sent by the Prophet to China. Sa'd's "grave" is still revered in Canton. Certain inscriptions on the old Chinese monuments relating to Islam in China are clearly forgeries prompted by religious pride. By the mid-eighth century several embassies had been exchanged.
In any case, early contacts between Islam and China are irrelevant to the Uighurs, since the Turkic tribes of Central Asia were not converted until centuries later (and of course none of this has anything to do with al-Bukhari).

Incidentally, the name "Uyghur" (or "Uighur") is confusing in terms of history, since the Muslim peoples of Eastern Turkestan who currently go by that name have little to do with the historic Uyghurs of medieval times—the name (which hadn't been in use since the 15th century) was chosen less than a century ago to provide a group identity to people who until they fled from China to Russia had identified themselves simply as Kashgari, Turfani, &c, and was later adopted by Chinese authorities as well. The current inhabitants of the region are by and large not descended from the historic Uyghurs, but of course have adopted the latters' history as their own. We all need roots.
posted by languagehat at 8:55 AM on July 4, 2005

Fascinating, languagehat. Who controls the present controls the past.
posted by leapingsheep at 8:16 PM on July 4, 2005

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