Arab and Muslim states, along with their citizens, have refused to condemn China’s treatment of the Uighur minority, arguing that the incarceration, torture and abortion of thousands of people with the name Muhammad was acceptable as long as Beijing did not allow anyone to draw a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.
“They can kill one thousand Muhammads, sterilize a thousand women who were going to give birth to Muhammads, and abort a thousand Muhammads as long as they do not denigrate or mock our symbols or dare to draw a caricature of the Prophet,” said one official from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. “Frankly we cannot do without Chinese clothes and fans, and pilgrims returning back from Mecca cannot do without the prayer beads and rugs and Ka’aba figurines that are made in China.”
Many Muslim leaders have condemned recently published cartoons in France as an affront to the faith, but argued that the death or torture of some of the religion’s adherents is to be taken in stride, since there are many Muslims in the world and they have always been able to recoup their losses and reproduce despite dying in the hundreds of thousands in Syria, Yemen and Libya in recent years.
Beijing had worried for months that news of its treatment of the Muslim Uighur minority, including the creation of vast forced re-education and labor camps and cultural genocide, might anger the world’s two billion Muslims. Those fears were compounded by the vehement protests against cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in France.
“We were concerned that if they overreacted this way to a bunch of drawings, what were they going to do when they found out we were sterilizing Uighur women?” said one Chinese official. But officials said they were pleasantly surprised to learn that the Muslim world saw no need to intervene.
“Look, the Uighurs live in another world and we read about them every now and then in western newspapers, and frankly we don’t know if they are respectable Muslims who deserve our outrage or not,” said one Muslim diplomat.
“The Qur’an tells us to verify information coming from vagrants and heretics lest it turn out to be fake news, so we are obliged to assume that China’s intentions are pure and to believe their denials,” he added. “And if they are lying, then the Uighurs are martyrs and God will honor them and their memory.”