No Uyghurs from Xinjiang went on Hajj pilgrimage, data shows

The apparent lack of participation is another example of China’s repression of Uyghurs, experts say.
By Gulchehra Hoja for RFA Uyghur
No Uyghurs from Xinjiang went on Hajj pilgrimage, data shows Consul General Wang Qimin, left, sees off the first batch of Chinese pilgrims returning home, at Jeddah Hajj Airport, June 22, 2024, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Chinese Consulate in Jeddah

No Uyghurs from China’s far-western region of Xinjiang were among the Muslims from China who went on this year’s Hajj, according to data from the Islamic Association of China and a Uyghur living abroad who went on the pilgrimage to Mecca.

All told, more than 1.8 million people participated in this year's Hajj, which fell between June 14-19, according to Saudi Arabian officials, including 1.6 million foreign pilgrims.

Muslims in China need government permission to make the pilgrimage, which as one of the Five Pillars of Islam is required of all Muslims once in their lives, if health allows. 

As of early June, 1,053 pilgrims – 769 from China’s Gansu province and 284 from Yunnan province – were registered to go on the Hajj, according to the website of the Islamic Association of China. No Uyghurs or other Muslims from Xinjiang were included in the tally.

Last year, 386 pilgrims from Ningxia province and other places in China participated, but none from Xinjiang. 

The last time any pilgrim from Xinjiang was reported by the association was in 2016.

China pushes ‘Sinicization of Islam’ in Xinjiang as Ramada arrives

In song and dance, Uyghurs forced to celebrate Lunar New Year

Arab nations praise China's Uyghur policies: Society is 'harmonious,' religion free

Abdusalam Teklimakan Haji, a Uyghur in Turkey who went on the Hajj this year and is a member of the board of the International Union of Eastern Turkistan Organizations, said  he saw no Uyghurs from Xinjiang among the Chinese delegation, although he did see some ethnic Hui Muslims carrying Chinese flags.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, which oversees the pilgrimage, allows about 1,000 pilgrims per million people from each country around the world, he said. With an estimated population of 11 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang – which Uyghurs prefer to call East Turkistan – at least 11,000 Uyghurs should be allowed to perform the Hajj. 

Radio Free Asia tried contacting the Islamic Association of China and other departments in Xinjiang administrating the relevant affairs for comment, but received no response. 

Repressing religion

The apparent lack of Uyghur participation suggests Chinese authorities are not permitting any Muslims from Xinjiang from going on the pilgrimage, and reflects Beijing’s wider repression of Uyghur culture and religious practice, activists and experts say.

Since 2017, China has severely restricted most religious practices among Uyghurs, including praying in mosques, reciting the Quran and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, in the name of squelching religious extremism and terrorism.

“The Chinese government’s targeted restrictions and repression on Uyghur people’s religious activities, such as pilgrimage, prayer and fasting, are part of its genocidal policies against Uyghurs.” said Ma Ju, an analyst of Islam based in New York City.

“Although China is giving opportunities to a small number of Hui Muslims to perform Hajj so that they can attract the attention of the world, especially the Muslim world, we know that their religious freedom is also restricted,” he said.

“There is no religious freedom for any citizen in China,” Ma said.

Just before the start of this year's Hajj season, the Chinese government boosted its propaganda campaign for the Muslim world, experts said.

At the beginning of June, the Chinese Consulate General in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and the Xinjiang Overseas Friendship Association jointly organized a music night in Dubai called "Xinjiang is a Good Place."

China has held similar events in Kuwait, Turkey, Egypt and other Muslim-dominated countries, emphasizing that they respect the freedom of cultural and religious belief in Xinjiang.

Although the events featured Uyghur dancers and singers, no Uyghurs were a part of the Chinese delegation to Mecca.

Translated by Martin Shawn. Edited by Malcolm Foster.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.


Jul 03, 2024 04:39 AM

That proves your genocide case. Now you can mobilize a coalition of the willing and start a new war for profit. But first you need China to agree to manufacture US weapons, because your country has no industrial base.