Ethnic Uighur women wave flags of the East Turkestan independence movement during a protest in Istanbul Oct. 1, 2020. CNS photo/Murad Sezer, Reuters

Charles Lewis: Uighurs need a Good Samaritan

By 
  • June 2, 2021

One of the greatest passages in the Bible is the story of the Good Samaritan.

Luke 10:25-37 resonates so strongly because it reveals an eternal truth: We are all brothers and sisters because God created us all. In that great passage, Jesus answers the question, “Who is my neighbour?”

The genius of the Gospel is that it is timeless; its lessons apply at any time to any culture anywhere in the world.

We are told Jews and Samaritans hated each other. A Jew is left for dead on the road. Two fellow Jews ignore his plight. But the Samaritan is the one who cares for the man, despite ethnic animosity.

Jesus told us we are all neighbours and we should treat each other as such. That brings us to the Uighurs. If ever a group needs our prayers and our outrage it is they. They are in desperate need of Good Samaritans.

The Uighurs are mainly Muslim and we are Christian but Jesus has already told us that doesn’t matter.

“About 11 million Uighurs — a mostly Muslim, Turkic-speaking ethnic group — live in the northwestern region of Xinjiang,” according to the Council of Foreign Relations. Xinjiang is one of the so-called autonomous regions under Beijing.

The report continues: “The Chinese government has imprisoned more than one million people since 2017 and subjected those not detained to intense surveillance, religious restrictions, forced labour and forced sterilizations.”

China has said that the need for these concentration camps is to counter “extremism and terrorism” and to promote social integration.

It turns out that Chinese President Xi Jinping got some encouragement from former U.S. President Donald Trump. That comes from John Bolton’s book, The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir. Bolton was Trump’s National Security Advisor for a time.

“Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do,” the book says.

In 2018, Trump said he did not impose sanctions because the U.S. was in the midst of a major trade deal with China. However, the following year he did impose 25-per-cent tariffs on $200-billion worth of goods — not because of the persecution of Uighurs but for what was seen as unfair Chinese trade practices. Given Trump’s proposed ban on all Muslims his reaction was not all that surprising.

Now think for a moment about whether camps were being built for Christians. The idea is not far fetched. The evidence of such a scenario is there for all to see.

In the most regrettable move of his papacy, Pope Francis signed a deal with China that was supposed to give the Roman Catholic Church some protection. It was meant to protect Catholics, but instead the Chinese government did what all totalitarian states do: ignore it when it no longer suited them.

Despite the deal, the Chinese government has arrested myriad Catholic clergy as well as Protestant pastors. Others have been ordered not to take part in religious services.

More awful was the part of the deal that allowed the Chinese government, an atheistic state, the right to approve new bishops. Essentially, the anti-Christ could choose those in the apostolic succession.

Benedict Rogers, a writer for the journal Foreign Policy, had this to say of the deal:

“At a time when much of the rest of the world is starting to wake up to the repression, mendacity and dangers of the Chinese Communist Party regime, the Vatican is getting even deeper in bed with it. And at a time when that regime is intensifying repression of religion — including Catholics — in China, Pope Francis is renewing an accord with Beijing that has yielded no benefits yet save for President Xi Jinping and only disunity and suffering for the Catholic Church.”

The steps from harassment to oppression to camps are a straight line. Before the Nazis shipped Jews to their deaths they first began by stripping them of their rights and dignity. They isolated them to the point when they were taken away hardly anyone noticed or cared.

Yes, we should pray for our fellow Christians. And yes, we should pray for those Muslims lingering in camps. Because when those camps are emptied there will be plenty of room for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

(Lewis is a Toronto writer and regular contributor to The Register.)

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