Tensions still remain between Han Chinese and Uighur Muslims following last
week's violence in Urumqi, the capital of China's far-western Xinjiang region.
Chinese authorities say 184 people were
killed in the unrest, 137 of them were ethnic Han. Some Han and Uighur people
insist the riots were an aberration in an otherwise harmonious interracial city,
but other Uighurs accuse authorities of longstanding discrimination against
ethnic minority Muslims
Last week's widespread ethnic violence remains a
fresh wound in this diverse city of 2 million people.
Many say the Uighur
led riots, that began July 5, were the actions of a small group of troublemakers
and do not reflect the attitudes of average Urumqi residents.
Aili is a Uighur man who owns a dry foods store on the edge of the Grand Bazaar.
He says the riots will not affect relations with his Han
Aili explained, "On the day of the riots a lot of Han suppliers
called me to see if I was safe."
Lili, a retired Han woman, agrees and
has this to say, "Uighur-Han relations are really good. I like to join in
activities for retirees, like dance classes. Lots of minorities participate in
these activities too, including Uighurs. They come to our house, we go to their
house. They are also really angry."
The image of racial harmony in Urumqi
is undercut by the government's need to deploy thousands of Chinese troops to
bring quiet to the city's streets.
Authorities arrested over 1,400
Uighurs following the riots.
Since Sunday, residents are required to
carry their identity cards to comply with police checks.
Mosques were closed, including for Friday prayers.
That day local Uighur authorities told people to pray at home.
this mosque where thousands usually come to worship on Fridays, men who arrived
ready to pray were unable to enter. They watched as soldiers patrolled from the
Walking through Uighur neighborhoods, people say they are still
afraid to leave their communities, both because of Han attacks and getting
arrested by authorities. Many are too fearful to be interviewed on
This 38-year-old Uighur woman was only willing to be filmed if
her identity would be protected. She says Chinese authorities discriminate
against Uighurs because of their ethnicity and religion.
She says, "China
doesn't support our religion's customs and lifestyle, like women covering their
face, or men wearing a hat or having a beard. Just for this they will arrest
The anonymous woman also accuses the Chinese media of downplaying
Uighur injuries and deaths.
She claims, "Lots of young Uighur people
died on the 6th and 7th, but the government doesn't make it public or broadcast
China's official death toll from the riots now stands at 184,
137 of whom were ethnic Han.
There is no indication if this number
includes the days following July 5 when Han mobs carried out revenge attacks on
The imam of the Liu Daowan mosque Obul Hashim Haxim, who is
also a Chinese parliament member, told reporters the rioters were not acting in
the spirit of Islam.
When asked if Uighurs were treated unfairly in
China, he firmly disagreed.