The Times of India

Why Muslim news media have shied away from covering the Uighur persecution story

Why Muslim news media have shied away from covering the Uighur persecution story

As with other religions, Islam embodies the concept of like-minded believers sharing a global destiny no matter which nation they live in.

In Arabic, this idea is known as the Ummah. Militant Islamists invoke it repeatedly to convince Muslims they are obligated to aid Muslims persecuted by non-Muslims.

How does this work in practice? As with Christians (the extensive history of Christian nations fighting other Christian nations is hardly unknown), the idealized notion that co-religionists can count on fellow believers in stressful times is highly limited.

Witness the lack of global Muslim efforts to assist their Chinese Uighur co-religionists currently being brutalized by the Chinese government. Or the relative dearth of Uighur-related news coverage emanating from Muslim-majority nations.

Western media, on the other hand, have covered the Uighur story like a blanket — despite the geographic, logistical and political hurdles making it difficult to do so. Here at GetReligion, we’ve posted repeatedly on the Uighur situation the past few years.

One Western publication I think has done an excellent job with the story is Foreign Policy. The magazine has published, online, two strong pieces on the Uighurs in just the past couple of weeks.

Here’s one from late October that tells how China is planting strangers who absurdly identify themselves as “relatives” in Uighur homes to monitor them. Here’s the second, published last week, detailing that Uighurs are so desperate to escape Chinese persecution that some are actually fleeing to Afghanistan for safety.

Consider that for a moment. True, Afghanistan is a Muslim nation. But it’s also a land of continual warfare where even the innocent can become collateral damage at any time. So fleeing to Afghanistan hardly ensures peaceful sanctuary. And yet they do.

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Will Muslim babies rule? Journalists take their shots at dissecting latest Pew findings

Will Muslim babies rule? Journalists take their shots at dissecting latest Pew findings

At one newspaper where I used to work, a co-worker was a Seventh-day Adventist whose chief mission in life seemed to be getting his wife pregnant. As his tribe went from four to five to six kids, the editors I worked with kept on teasing him about his growing brood.

He would joke back at us, saying his family would be taking over the world in contrast to us, all of whom (at the time) were childless.

Progeny was power, he said. His genes would live on.

Which is why I found the latest Pew Research Center findings highly interesting. Because Muslims are having more babies than any other world religion, Pew reported last week, their numbers should reach parity with the world’s Christians by mid-century. In other words, both groups will contain some 3 billion adherents.

Pew’s report came out of the same data dump that provided the basis for a 2015 report (which co-getreligionista Ira Rifkin reported on here) with added facts about births and deaths among the various religions and extrapolations to 2060 instead of 2050. And, like its report two years ago, it omitted statistics about China, which Ira faulted them for. China contains one-fifth of the world’s population, so that’s a big gap.

The latest Pew report lists the unaffiliated at 1.2 billion, which is larger than any religious group other than Christians and Muslims. Many of those unaffiliated are assumed to be in China, but if it’s true that China is on the way to being the world’s most Christian nation, then Pew’s data is already skewed.

I had to get to a footnote at the bottom of the report before Pew admitted its uncertainty about China. Anyway, I surveyed how the world’s media responded to the Pew findings and it was amazing how each played to its audience. The cleverest piece I found was in Christianity Today which made the demographics-is-destiny argument.

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