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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Muslim reaction to China unrest mostly muted

July 15, 2009

Malaysia Star

July 14, 2009

CAIRO (AP): The riots in China's Xinjiang region and subsequent 
crackdown on the Muslim Uighur minority have drawn a muted response 
from many Muslim countries that may be wary of damaging lucrative 
trade ties with Beijing or attracting attention to their own attitudes 
toward political dissent.

The non-Arab countries of Iran and Turkey have been among the few to 
criticize China. Iran is busy dealing with its own unrest following a 
disputed presidential election, while Turkey has ethnic ties to 
China's Uighur minority.

But throughout much of the Middle East and the Arab world, the 
violence in China has generated little reaction.

Arab regimes "couldn't criticize the attacks on Chinese Muslims 
because they themselves have no democracy," said Labib Kamhawi, a 
Jordanian political analyst. "They're in the same boat as the Chinese 

China has poured tens of thousands of troops into the western Xinjiang 
region over the past few days, imposing tight control on the capital 
of Urumqi and surrounding areas after ethnic violence left more than 
180 people dead and 1,680 wounded last week.

The Uighurs, who number 9 million in Xinjiang, have complained about 
an influx of Han Chinese and government restrictions on their Muslim 
religion. They accuse the majority Han community of discrimination and 
the Communist Party of trying to erase their language and culture.

China is a major trading partner for many Arab countries including 
Sudan, Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Gulf nations. It is Jordan's 
third-largest largest trading partner, following Saudi Arabia and the 
United States. Jordan also is seeking to attract Chinese investment in 
projects such as renewable energy, railroads and water desalination.

Iran has been one of the few Muslim countries to speak out on the 
crackdown. On Sunday, the official IRNA news agency reported that 
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki had discussed the ethnic clashes 
in a phone conversation with his Chinese counterpart and "reflected 
concerns among Islamic countries."

High-ranking clerics also condemned the crackdown and urged the 
government to complain to China.

"Silence and indifference toward such oppressions on the people is an 
unforgivable vice," said Grand Ayatollah Youssef Saanei, a major 
religious figure who has criticized his own government's violent 
response to mass protests over the disputed June 12 election. Iran's 
crackdown on protesters has drawn international condemnation from both 
Western governments and human rights groups.

The most powerful response from the Muslim world came from Turkey, 
where some 5,000 people protested in Istanbul on Sunday to denounce 
the ethnic violence and call on their government to intervene.

Turks share ethnic and cultural bonds with the Turkic-speaking 
Uighurs. The Chinese violence has sparked almost daily protests in 
Turkey, mostly outside heavily guarded Chinese diplomatic missions in 
Istanbul and Ankara where some protesters have burned Chinese flags or 
China-made goods. Sunday's protest, however, was the largest.

Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has compared the 
situation in Xinjiang to genocide, the foreign minister has conveyed 
Turkey's concerns to China, and Turkey's industry minister has urged 
Turks to stop buying Chinese goods. The government, however, has no 
plans for an official boycott.

In the Arab world, two extremist Islamic Web sites affiliated with al-
Qaida called for killing Han Chinese in the Middle East, noting large 
communities of ethnic Chinese laborers work in Algeria and Saudi Arabia.

"Chop off their heads at their workplaces or in their homes to tell 
them that the time of enslaving Muslims has gone," read one posting.

In the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Foreign Ministry official Ahmed Youssef 
said his Islamic militant movement said the unrest would harm China's 
relations with the Muslim world.

"We hope that the Chinese government improves its relations with the 
Muslims of the Xinjiang region, and not to harm those relations by 
harming the Uighurs," he said.
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