Uighurs, a religiously and ethnically distinct Chinese Muslim community who are largely Sunni Muslims, share more in common with their Central Asian neighbors, ethnically and culturally, than their Chinese rulers. They speak a different language, possess different physical characteristics, and maintain their own distinct way of life and traditions. Eight million Uighurs are found in Xinjiang, which sits in remote northwestern China. Despite similarities to a well-known beleaguered Chinese community, Tibetan Buddhists, the Uighurs' plight has received very little media attention. Indeed, when their story has been told, it has been linked, however tenuously, to the specter of international Islamic terrorism. This article explores American news coverage of the Uighurs before and after 9/11. By looking at how and why this happened, the article illuminates American press practices regarding the coverage both of religion in China and of Islam.
Dru C. Gladney
There are almost twenty million Muslims in China, constituting a diverse community that is both multi-ethnic and, within Islam, multi-religious. There are ten official Muslim nationalities of China, namely, Uyghur, Kazak, Dongxiang, Kyrgyz, Salar, Tadjik, Uzbek, Bonan, and Tatar. With the exception of the Hui, all these Muslim nationalities do not speak Chinese as their native language and are derived more from Central Asian than Chinese origins. The Hui are spread across the length and breadth of the country, but they often share nothing in common with each other except Islam, or the memory of it as handed down to them by their ancestors. While it also might be argued that most of the other Muslim minorities are on the borders of China proper and are historically and culturally more attuned to the regions and peoples outside of China, the Hui are unique in that they inhabit every city, town, and 97 percent of all counties in China. This article examines Islamic communities in China, focusing on Islam among Muslims classified by the state as Hui.