Religion, Repression, and Traditional Uyghur Culture in Southern Xinjiang: Kashgar and Khotan Open Access
Islam remains central to the identity of the Uyghurs of southern Xinjiang. This article focuses on the cities of Kashgar and Khotan in the early twenty-first century and, on the basis of fieldwork, examines aspects of religious practice and tensions between the Uyghurs and the Chinese state. In Kashgar the old Uyghur Town has been physically destroyed, historical religious monuments have been secularized but smaller mosques have active congregations. In the Khotan region, the annual Imam Asim shrine festival takes place openly and active worship continues in village mosques. In an increasingly violent region, tension will continue between the religious requirements of the Uyghurs and the Chinese state’s insistence on associating all Islamic practice, particularly independent practice, with extremism and terrorism.
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