"For a long time, a separatist Uyghur movement has been seeking independence for Xinjiang province. Beijing has made it very clear that China will never countenance this. And one way in which the regime is trying to suppress this movement is by directly attacking expressions of Muslim faith among the Uyghur, presumably on the basis that Islam forms a major component of Uyghur culture and identity. People such as the Cato Institute’s Mustafa Akyol have been sounding the alarm about this for some time and haven’t hesitated to compare what it is going on to Stalin’s Gulags.
It has been estimated that over one million Muslim Uyghurs—almost 10 percent of the Uyghur population in China—are imprisoned in what amount to concentration camps. Among other things, they are subject on a daily basis to relentless “reeducation.” Recently linked Chinese government documents have revealed that the objective of the exercise is to destroy the detainees’ sense of cultural distinctiveness. That means seeking to systematically eradicate their connection to the Islamic religious beliefs, practices, and culture that have been part of everyday Uyghur life since the sixteenth century."