Turpan’s Green Mosque

The main street is full of mosques, one after the other, and this photo is a close up of the entrance and two central minarets to ‘the green mosque’.

4-6% of China’s population (i.e. 40-60 million) are Muslim. Amongst other things Turpan is famous in China for its grapes, and is home to the annual grape festival.

By Farrukh
Taken on: December 5, 2006
Location: Turpan is located in the center of the XinJiang province in an area known as the “Turpan Depression”, 328ft. below sea level, the lowest and the hottest place in all of China.

The Mystery Of The Cocaine Mummies

Partial Transcript Below:

In the 21st dynasty of the Pharaos, 3,000 years ago, there took place one night at a temple, the funeral of Henut Taui – the Lady of the Two lands.

Compared to the great rulers of Egypt, her burial was a modest affair. But just like the Pharaos, she too was mummified, and her body placed in the depths of a desert tomb, in the belief it would give her immortality.

German scientist, Dr Svetla Balabanova, made a discovery which was to baffle Egyptologists, and call into question whole areas of science and archeology to chemistry and botany.

She discovered that the body of Henut Taui contained large quantities of cocaine and nicotine. The surprise was not just that the ancient Egyptians had taken drugs, but that these drugs come from tobacco and coca, plants completly unknown outside the Americas, unheard of until Sir Walter Raleigh introduced smoking from the New World, or until cocaine was imported in the Victorian era.

It was seemingly impossible for the ancient Egyptians to get hold of these substances.

For thousands of years people in the Andes have been chewing coca leaves, to get out the cocaine with it’s stimulant, anaesthetic and euphoric properties. There are actually species of the coca family which grow in Africa, but only the South American species has ever been shown to contain the drug.

DR SVETLA BALABANOVA – Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ulm: 
“The cocaine of course remains an open question. It’s a mystery – it’s completely unclear how cocaine could get into Africa. On the other hand, we know there were trade relationships long before Columbus, and it’s conceivable that the coca plant had been imported into Egypt even then.”

NARRATOR:
Was it possible that coca – a plant from South America had been finding it’s way to Egypt 3,000 years ago?

If the cocaine found in mummies could not be explained by contamination, or fake mummies or by Egyptian plants containing it, there appeared to be only one remaining possibility… An international drug trade who’s links extended all the way to the Americas.

NARRATOR: 
But on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, where the moving current of the Gulf Stream arrives in Mexico directly from the west coast of Africa, there is a professionally-employed anthropologist who does seriously beleive in such possibilities.

PROF ALICE KEHOE – Anthropologist, Marquette University: 
“I think there is good evidence that there was both trans-atlantic and trans-pacific travel before Columbus.”

But the idea that the ability of the ancients to cross the oceans might have been underestimated continues to be quietly whispered about. Over the years evidence has grown which suggests it might be time to look again at such voyages. To imagine that the Egyptians, who apparently only sailed up and down the Nile or into the Red Sea, might get as far as the Americas perhaps sounds fantastical. But in science, what is one day thought absurd, can next day become accepted as fact.

[Picture of a Norse settlement in Newfoundland]

One senior academic thinks it’s important to remember that before the discovery of this Norse settlement in Newfoundland in 1965 theories about Viking voyages to America were dismissed as nonsense.

PROF MARTIN BERNAL – Historian, Cornell University: 
“What we’ve seen is a shift from the idea of Viking landings in America being seen as completely fantastic or partisan, to being accepted by every scholar in the field.”

NARRATOR: 
The fact that evidence of the Viking crossings was hidden has encouraged Martin Bernal to contemplate even earlier voyages that are likewise dismissed as impossible.

PROF MARTIN BERNAL – Historian, Cornell University: 
“I have no reason to doubt that there were others – but what they were, and how much influence they had on American society is open to question. But that trans-oceanic voyages are possible – or were possible – seems to me to be overwhelmingly likely.”

NARRATOR: 
Yet discovery of minute strands of silk found in the hair of a mummy from Luxor could suggest the trade stretching from Egypt to the Pacific. For silk at this time was only known to come from China.

PROF MARTIN BERNAL – Historian, Cornell University: 
“We’re getting more and more evidence of world trade at an earlier stage. You have the Chinese silk definitely arriving in Egypt by 1000BC. I think modern scholars have a tendency to believe rigidly in progress and the idea that you could only have a worldwide trading network from the 18th century onwards, is our temporal arrogance – that it’s only modern people that can do these things.”

NARRATOR: 
The evidence for ancient trade with America is limited, and most of it is disputed, but it can’t be completely ruled out as explaining the apparent impossibility of Balabanova’s results, results that at first seemed so absurd many thought they would be explained away by a simple story of a botch-up in a lab, results that still without firm explanation continue to crop up in unexpected places.

For in Manchester, the mummies under the care of Rosalie David, the Egyptologist once so sure that Balabanova had made a mistake, produced some odd results of their own.

ROSALIE DAVID – Keeper of Egyptology, Manchester Museum: 
“We’ve received results back from the tests on our mummy tissue samples and two of the samples and the one hair sample both have evidence of nicotine in them. I’m really very surprised at this.”

DR SVETLA BALABANOVA – Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ulm: 
“The results of the tests on the Manchester mummies have made me very happy after all these years of being accuesed of false results and contaminated results, so I was delighted to hear nicotine had been found in these mummies, and very, very happy to have this enormous confirmation of my work.”

NARRATOR: 
The tale of Henut Taui shows that in science facts can be rejected if they don’t fit with our beleifs while what is believed proven, may actually be uncertain.

Little wonder then, that a story that began with one scientist, a few mummies and some routine tests, in no time at all could upset whole areas of knowledge we thought we could take for granted.

The Hundred-Word Eulogy: Praising Prophet Muhammad & Islam

English:

Since the creation of the universe
God had already appointed his great faith-preaching man,
From the West he was born,
And received the holy scripture
And book made of 30 parts (Juz)
To guide all creations,
Master of all rulers,
Leader of the holy ones,
With support from the Heavens,
To protect his nation,
With five daily prayers,
Silently hoping for peace,
His heart directed towards Allah,
Giving power to the poor,
Saving them from calamity,
Seeing through the Unseen,
Pulling the souls and the spirits away from all wrongdoings,
Mercy to the world,
Transversing to the ancient,
Majestic path vanquished away all evil,
His religion Pure and True,
Muhammad,
The Noble High One.

Chinese:

至聖百字讃

乾坤初始

天籍注名

傳教大聖

降生西域

授受天經

三十部册

普化衆生

億兆君師

萬聖領袖

協助天運

保庇國民

五時祈祐

默祝太平

存心真主

加志窮民

拯救患難

洞徶幽冥

超拔靈魂

脱離罪業

仁覆天下

道冠古今

降邪歸一

教名清真

穆罕默德

至聖貴人

穆罕默德

清真北寺

Chinese (with punctuation in paragraph form):

《百字讚》寫道:“乾坤初始,天籍注名。傳教大聖,降生西域。授受天經,三十部冊,普化眾生。億兆君師,萬聖領袖。協助天運,保庇國民。五時祈祐,默祝太平。存心真主,加志窮民。拯救患難,洞徹幽冥。超拔靈魂,脱離罪業。仁覆天下,道冠古今。降邪歸一,教名清真。穆罕默德,至貴聖人。”(《百字讚》

Arabic:

منذ أن خُلق الكون،
قد قرر الرب أن يعيّن،
هذا الرجل العظيم الداعي للإيمان،
من الغرب قد ولد،
ليتلقى الكتاب المقدس (القرآن(
كتابًا يحتوي على ثلاثون جزءا
ليهدي جميع الخلائق،
ملك كل الملوك،
زعيم كل القديسين،
بدعم إلهي،
ليحمي أمته،
بخمسة صلوات يومية،
بصمت يأمل حصول السلام،
قلبه متجه نحو الله،
يقوي الضعفاء،
ينقذهم من الكارثة،
يرى من خلال الظلمة،
يسحب النفوس والأرواح،
بعيدًا عن جميع الذنوب/الاخطاء،
رحمة للعالمين،
سائرًا على طريق العظماء القديم،
طاردًا لكل الشرور،
دينه نقي وصادق،
محمد،
الشريف والعظيم.

IMF May Relocate To Beijing In The Future

IMF May Relocate To Beijing In The Future

The International Monetary Fund’s headquarters may one day shift to Beijing from Washington, aligning with China’s growing influence in the world economy, the fund’s managing director said.

Christine Lagarde, speaking late today in London, said IMF rules require the main office be located in the country that is the biggest shareholder, which the U.S. has been since the fund was formed 70 years ago.

The IMF founding members “decided that the institution would be headquartered in the country which had the biggest share of the quota, which chipped in the biggest amount and contributed most. And that is still today the United States,” she said in response to questions at the London School of Economics.

“But the way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these days the IMF was headquartered in Beijing for instance,” she said. “It would be the articles of the IMF that would dictate it.”

Lagarde said the IMF has a good relationship with China, the world’s second largest economy and she praised the government’s commitment to fighting corruption.

She had less kind things to say about the U.S., which remains the “outlier” among Group of 20 countries to approve an overhaul of the ownership of the 188-member organization. The plan would give emerging markets more influence and would elevate China to the third-largest member nation.

Lagarde said there is “frustration by countries like China, like Brazil, like India, with the lack of progress in reforming the IMF by adopting the quota reform that would give emerging-market economies a bigger voice, a bigger vote, a bigger share in the institution and I share that frustration immensely.”

“The credibility of the institution, its relevance in the world in conducting the mission that it was assigned 70 years ago is highly correlated with its good representation of the membership,” she said. “We cannot have a good representation of the membership when China has a teeny tiny share of quota, share of voice when it has grown to where it has grown.”

By Sandrine Rastello

China’s Hanification Of Xinjiang Is Failing

Ethnic riots do not occur in vacuum. So the questions are what is fueling the separatist movement in Xinjiang, a region which until recently had appeared like a black hole in the Asian landmass? Why have some young Uyghurs, a minority group comprising roughly half the population of Xinjiang province, lost trust in the state and its institutions? What causes have contributed to the anti-Chinese campaign – both violent and non-violent – by young Uyghurs? Has the Uyghur unrest anything to do with radicalization along religious line, the al-Qaeda variety that we have noticed in some parts of the Muslim world in the post-9/11 era?

To understand the reason, the history of the region can be our starting point. Just as Soviet Union had been formed from the heterogeneous territories of the Russian Czarist Empire, what we call People’s Republic of China (PRC) today is similarly inherited lands conquered by the Manchu Qing dynasty before its collapse in 1911. Only in the 1760s the Qing generals were able to conquer East Turkestan incorporating it as Xinjiang (meaning: New Dominion), reflecting the imperial perspective; but their rule was repeatedly broken. They lost the region to Ya’qub Beg (Bek) in the 19th century. General Zou’s re-conquest did not survive the collapse of the imperial court at the beginning of the 20th century, and full control passed on to the Chinese only in 1949.

Despite a harsh landscape and climate, “Xinjiang has a rich past: sand-buried cities, painted cave shrines, rare creatures, and wonderfully preserved mummies of European appearance. Their descendants, the Uyghurs, still farm the tranquil oases that ring the dreaded Taklamakan, the world’s second largest sand desert, and the Kazakh and Kirghiz herdsmen still roam the mountains,” writes Christian Tyler.

The PRC calls it Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) because of its Uyghur population. Mao tried to sell the Marxist-Leninist thought to the ethnic problem. Not only did the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) fail but Mao’s social engineering of the Turkis (Uyghurs) was highly destructive and led to the widespread discrimination and segregation prevalent today. The Communists developed it as a penal colony, as a nuclear testing ground and dumping ground for radioactive wastes (that is responsible for unusually high birth defects and mortality rate amongst the inhabitants) and as a buffer against invasion, and as a supplier of raw materials and living space for an overpopulated country.

Determined to end the push and pull of centuries, Mao’s successors have resorted to Sinicization (i.e., Hanification) of the region. They have changed the demography of the region by settling Han Chinese from other parts. They have curtailed the region’s millennium-plus-years old rich Muslim culture and are practicing widespread religious repression against the ethnic Uyghurs. They have conducted forced abortion on Uyghur women. They have closed down Qur’anic and Uyghur language schools to cut down their Islamic and cultural ties with other Muslims. Because of the Mandarin-based educational policy of the state, the Uyghurs can’t pass and find jobs in their own land. The party-state has institutionalized discrimination based on Uyghur’s distinct religion, habitus, physiognomy, language culture and socioeconomic status. In so doing, they have only widened the gap between the settlers and the indigenous inhabitants.

Consequently, what the PRC sees as its property, the Uyghurs regard as theft by an alien occupier. In its revisionist attempt, the Chinese government has tried to falsify history and portray the Uyghurs as part of the great family of the Chinese nations and asserts that Xinjiang has been an integral part of Chinese national territory since the ancient times. Uyghurs reject such a mischaracterization of both their people and their homeland maintaining that they are a distinct ethnic group with its distinct history, geography, language, culture and tradition. They have neither accepted Chinese occupation nor their incorporation into the Chinese nation-state.

Uyghurs have no political representation in the PRC government. Top CCP party officials at all levels in Xinjiang have been overwhelmingly Han Chinese. The text books present a very slanted history of the region. Recorded expressions of dissent, criticism or discontent are thwarted. All mass media, including electronic, are censored. Every poem, song, short story, essay and novel must pass through a battery of censors before being published, which can be banned later if deemed ‘harmful’ to the state. Uyghur intellectuals face constant surveillance and imprisonment. On January 15 of this year Professor Ilham Tohti, a Uyghur scholar who has taught at Beijing’s Minzu University was taken away by police on unspecified charges. He was one of the few Chinese citizens willing to openly criticize the government policies he said were alienating young Uyghurs: religious restrictions, education policies that favor Mandarin over the Uyghur language and economic development that disproportionately benefits newly arrived Han migrants. In 2009 Professor Tohti was held for around six weeks without charge during a flare-up of violence in Xinjiang. Last year, he was barred from boarding a plane in Beijing to accept a teaching position at Indiana University in an episode that was criticized by the U.S. government and others.

In the last few decades Beijing’s concerted Hanification efforts (i.e., to Sinicize Xinjiang) have only planted unfathomed mistrust and widened the animosity between the Uyghurs and the Han settlers. Tension has led to violence and brutal reprisals.

The result is further militarization of the Xinjiang region and establishment of aggressive global network against the Uyghur separatists. In the mid-1990s, there were frequent security searches and low-level operations named as the “Strike Hard” campaigns by the Chinese security forces, aiming at arresting known, suspected or potential violent separatists- a pattern that would be repeated well into the next decade. Many of the Uyghurs were caught up in these security campaigns. These operations did not make life easier for many innocent Uyghurs, and instead radicalized them to vent their anger against the Han Chinese settlers. Chinese intelligence agents are also suspected in the mysterious death of many exiled Uyghurs.

In the post-9/11 period, the CCP leadership tried to (1) associate the Uyghur separatist struggle for self-determination as terrorism both to its Chinese people and global audience, and (2) pressure the US to view the movement as an al-Qaeda linked terrorist organization in its global war on terror. It was able to fool some but not all.

In his well-researched book – The Uyghurs: Strangers in Their Own Land – Gardner Bovingdon has shown that Uyghur resistance to Chinese rule is prompted by nationalism and not Islam. China’s Nation-building experiment has succeeded in her core province but not in peripheral regions that were annexed and had very little in common with China. Simply put: in spite of decades of programming, China’s nation-building project has miserably failed in China’s far west – Xinjiang and Tibet. As much as the Chinese government is trying to construct its aggressive nation-building the Uyghurs and Tibetans are trying to deconstruct that myth through their resistance movement and in so doing raising new claims of nationhood of their peoples.

Uyghurs will not be satisfied with anything less than a substantial expansion of autonomy in Xinjiang, which allows them to get educated in their own language and find jobs that are meaningful to support their families, and allows them a bigger share of the regional administration and economy. Sadly, China’s leaders show no sign of compromise, and in fact, appear to do just the opposite further marginalizing the Uyghurs in their own land in every respect. This Chinese policy is suicidal and absurd.

The world recognizes that if the people of one nation do not want to co-habit in the same polity because of widespread persecution, repression and discrimination, then partition should not be automatically neglected as a viable solution. This might be one way to manage the Uyghurs’ (who are a nation by any definition) legitimate demands for political space. But the road is still wide open for a political solution: either separation or consociation. The latter can be a good model for China, if the Chinese leadership has the wisdom, sincerity of intent and purpose.

Xinjiang desperately needs inter-ethnic peace because there has already been too much blood shedding. The longer the global community keeps silent on the question of the Uyghurs without adopting any measures to seek justice for them, the stronger the polarizations would happen along ethnic and religious fault-lines, particularly among the poor Uyghurs – who already find them relegated in all aspects, and the nastier may be the consequences for global peace and regional security, because such a global indifference and/or impotence may persuade some Uyghurs to further radicalize along powerful Islamic symbols, further swelling the links, which have hitherto been weak, with transnational Muslim radicals who are not afraid of death.

The Uyghurs currently lack military or organizational resources that would facilitate their legitimate struggles for self-determination. The Chinese control appears complete and has succeeded in denying all those tools and resources to reaching the Uyghur separatists. They are also trying to strip Uyghurs of rhetorical weapons. Such an all-out policy to squelching dissidence completely may prove imprudent and inane in our time when nationalistic feelings are proving to be important.

Only time would tell how long China’s coercion policy will succeed to stem nationalistic feelings of the Uyghur people. If PRC is serious about nation-building it must change its failed strategy, which relies on strong arm tactics of coercion and not on integration where Uyghurs and other nationalities feel equal and welcome in this multi-national, -religious, -ethnic country that refuses to learn from the Soviet and Balkan experience.

Dr. Siddiqui is an author of 13 books and a human rights and peace activist. Dr. Imtiyaz teaches Chinese politics and ethnic conflict in the Asian Studies/Political Science Department at Temple University, Philadelphia, USA.

Full Moon

Full Moon

“The Chinese considered the moon to be yin, feminine and full of negative energy, as opposed to the sun that was yang and exemplified masculinity. I liked the moon, with its soft silver beams. It was at once elusive and filled with trickery, so that lost objects that had rolled into the crevices of a room were rarely found, and books read in its light seemed to contain all sorts of fanciful stories that were never there the next morning.”

[Quote by Yangsze Choo, The Ghost Bride… Provided by CZ]

By Gaston Batistini
Taken on: May 7, 2009
Location: Near Yangshuo, China