Muslims in China

West Street minstrel
goodbye China

China has so many different minority populations that it is tough to keep track of them; the Chinese government recognizes 55 different groups of them.  In  my few weeks in China I did see some different minority groups in their home areas but I also saw some mixed in with the population at whole.  In many of the larger cities, I noticed that quite a few of the food merchants were Muslim and appeared to be ethnically or a mix of Caucasian peoples.  In the photo above from Guilin, Erica wanted to get some “meat pokers,” (meat on a stick), it is “supposed” to be pork, but who knows - could be pigeon or rat?  I tried a few – they are quite spicy and taste like pork skewers from a bar-b-que.

You’ll notice the hat on the vendor, he’s a Muslim from the province of China of Xinjiang – the province that makes up a large part of China’s western area.  The people of this area, called Uighurs have recently been engaging in a bit of a “civil war” with the Communist government.  While most in China don’t even know about the unrest, I’ve learned that as many as 500 have been killed in clashes with the military.  Looking at sites that most Chinese cannot access (accessing via my VPN – virtual private network – the only way to access Facebook and WordPress sites), I see (in the western media) entire columns of Chinese Army tanks and troops heading to the troubled province.

The Chinese government says that the trouble is caused by Islamist revolutionaries who are intent on breaking off the province from China and subjecting the people to Sharia law.  In talking to many Uighurs from China and some businessmen in Mongolia, it seems that the Chinese have been doing some ad hoc “ethnic cleansing” in Xinjiang province in an attempt to dilute the Muslim population with Chinese colonists.  I am told that the uprising is a result of land being confiscated from Muslim Uighurs and given to Chinese colonists who are imported from China proper.  China did much of the same in Tibet and the Mongolians populated the Ulgi province with Kazakh tribesmen to prevent the Chinese from colonizing western Mongolia.

So, it is interesting to see Muslims living peacefully with the Chinese and living peacefully in their own province within China – until the Chinese government instigated conflict with their population movements.  As in Russia and Mongolia, Islam seems to be more of a “culture” and I find that I have more in common with the Russian/Mongolian/Chinese Muslims than I have with the average Israeli who is our supposed “ally.”

In the photo below, an Uighur man is baking bread in a round oven that has been used in Asia for millennia.  The bread is flat and about the size of a small pizza and sells for about .30 cents.  They are Anya’s favorite and we stop to buy a few for the bus ride.  The photo below is of the inside the oven – all coal heat here – no worries about bad air quality!  The dough is pressed to the top of the oven, just inside the rim.  How the bread keeps from falling, and how he can stick is hand in there to pull it out is a mystery to me!

After securing bus tickets, we decided to get some dinner at one of the noodle stands.  There were quite a few to choose from and after a while we settled on one stand and found that standard $1 for a bowl of noodles, vegetables and some pork.

The Chinese couple that runs the stand mix and cook your food right before your eyes.  You simply point to which ingredients that you want and they add them to the cooking in the proper proportions and season to your liking.


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West Street minstrel
goodbye China

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