In the middle of the desert landscapes of Taklamakan, in the northern-west part of China, the province of Xinjiang is a least populated province while it covers close to a sixth from the country's territory. Having resisted while in hundreds of years the Han Chinese domination, Xinjiang, or Old Eastern Turkestan, fell into under the Chinese Han control in 1949. From then, its population is mainly Uyghur People and Turkic - speaking System.
Islamic above all, the Uyghurs have a solid religious identification which usually, in specific, allowed them to keep a solid difference towards the Chinese enemy. Of course, the Uyghur Kingdom of Mongolia knew a brilliant civilization, until its absorption by the Mongolian Empire in the XIIIth century.
While in their historical past, the Uyghurs successively adopted Shamanism, Manicheism, Buddhism and the Nestorianism before finally moving to Islam when the Arab conquerors beat the Chinese in year 751 BC., thus beginning the way to the Islamization of the entire Central Asia.
Under the influence of the religions which they taken on, the Uyghurs used successively, and at times in a competing way, a great number of written forms (turco-runic, brahmi, tokharien, soghdien) before developing their own unique graphic system.
The entrance of Islam was a great change because it was followed by the assimilation of the Uyghur land in the enormous Turco-Mongolian and Islamic Kingdom. Thus, the descendants of Genghis Khan progressively replaced their writing by a Arabo-Persan alphabet, still used nowadays.
If their writing, their own language and their religion mark a real big difference with the culture of Chinese Han, the Uyghurs also differ from their aspect, so characteristic of Central Asia's people. A shiny skin, eyes representing a whole pallet of colors, from black to deep blue, features directing out to the Mongolian, Turkish or Uzbek roots of these men and these women.
For a few years, China has integrated the proper identity of these remote people, although they represent only 9 million inhabitants - a trifle for this specific large land. Thus, the Uyghurs are now part of the fifty six ethnic minority groups having been known in an official way by China.
This particular law will allow them a few privileges in a land where their difference is very often repressed. Thus, Uyghur families escape the "single child policy" and their language is known as the second official language in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
The integration of the Uyghur people and their culture in China, however, appears really illusory. The presence of natural resources in Xinjiang, and its distance with locations well-known as sensitive, strongly motivated the government to speed up the sinicization of this area. Million of Han thus came to settle in this new Chinese eldorado, monopolizing the larger responsibility job opportunities.
In reaction to this true will to assimilate the Uyghurs into the Chinese culture, an independent party like East Turkistan Islamic Movement(ETIM) was born in the early 1990.
Saying more freedom, but mainly the recognition of their true identity, this movement was severely repressed by the power authorities in location Xinjiang.
The events of September 11, 2001, were the perfect occasion for the Chinese government to justify true reprisals: they declared the "Uyghur freedom fighters" as dangerous terrorists linked to Al Quaida because of their Muslim origins and their proximity with Pakistan and Afghanistan... However, the terrible repression which followed did not calm down the anger. The Uyghurs population continues today to proudly keep their identity and their tradition , although they become a minority on their own land.