One story, many Views: What are ‘Radicals’ thinking? Symbols of Islam in Various News Sources.

Lots of discussion about militant groups in the Middle East is floating around. The United States has its own history with these conflicts but it is not alone; China has an ongoing conflict with the Muslim Uighur minority, a historical ethnic group from XinJiang province (‘China’s 9/11’ occurred this year at a train station in the nearby Kunming province). Examination here could help shed light on this issue–The way this gets portrayed, why does it seem like Muslims are in so many conflicts with other ethnic and/or religious groups?

Generally reports are written to claim that the ‘Middle East’ or ‘Uighur Autonomous Region’ is full of Islamic radicals who want to gain political power in order to exterminate religious &/ ethnic minorities as part of a religious and ethnically standardized goal–usually they don’t quite explain whether the particular instances of violence were perpetrated for political, ethnic or religious agendas or tensions. Take for instance this article (coming from the Washington Post) and its description of an ‘Islamic State ‘caliphate’ in the Muslim world’. Or this report, where a person from an extensive Islamic background elaborates on what he knows to be the final goal of Islam. Since not all Muslims (the majority of ethnic, ‘moderate’ Muslims at least) do not understand Islam in that way, what is the cause of the terrorist mentality? That question could take a very long time to think about, but it would probably come down to dependence on context.

In this report, China Central Television (state/gov’t-owned media) reports solidarity among religious and ethnic minorities as a Muslim Imam is assassinated by individuals (it appears to be implied that the assassins were Uighur, since they are said to have been ‘influenced by religious extremism’ and carrying knives/axes, a symbol of horror related to Uighur ethnic stereotyping. However the assassins’ ethnicity is not stated…it would be easy to figure out since the Han Chinese and Uighur (Muslim) (Chinese) people are very different in appearance–yet this is not reported, moreover no video or camera evidence with the criminals in it gets shown).

 This article  (partially written from a participant-observation standpoint) suggests that the terrorism, at least in China’s Xinjiang province, comes from individuals seeking justice or revenge. It observes how the long history of racially and ethnically segregated treatment plays into current racialized norms that influence what people will believe about each other and how that influences the courses of action that they will take. History of Conflict –> Stereotypes –> Fear –> Percieved Threat –> Riot, Murder, or other forms of Violent Action –> More History of Conflict. Conclusion of this article would be that while the terrorism is real and frightening, and seems like a pressing issue that should be solved, terrorists in Xinjiang do not have a single goal. The government continues trying to suppress information that would allow the revenge killings and riots that prolong the conflict(s) to happen . Their own intervention then becomes part of the conflict (indeed, the most well-known and most scrutinized part of the conflict).



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