Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism
The Senate is stewing with resolutions that are little more than Islamist wish lists. Last year they were aimed at defending Qatar, a key sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood, over a blockade imposed on it by the Saudis, defending Qatari terror lobbyist Jamal Khashoggi, and demanding that the United States and the Saudis stop bombing Iran’s Houthi terrorists whose motto is, “Death to America”.
These resolutions were meant to pressure President Trump into reversing his policies and letting Islamist lobbyists set the foreign policy agenda for the United States the way they had under Obama. They disregarded basic facts, such as Khashoggi’s politics, Qatar’s support for terrorism and the Houthis causing the famine in Yemen by ransacking food aid, and instead repeated Islamist propaganda.
They were backed by the usual Senate suspects, Bob Corker, Lindsey Graham and Bernie Sanders.
Now some Senate Republicans are pushing another terrible idea from the Islamist lobby, the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. The legislation targets China’s crackdown on Islamic separatist terror.
China’s response to Islamic terrorism has been blunt and ruthless. In response to brutal Muslim terrorist attacks inside its borders and a terror force of tens of thousands of Islamic Turkestani separatists in Syria, it has reportedly forced Muslims to violate Ramadan, eat pork and drink alcohol. Mosques have been shut down and Islamic leaders have been detained. Some appear to have died in police custody.
That is how Communist regimes do business.
But Senate Republicans appear far less interested in China’s crackdown on Christians, Tibetans or any of China’s many other ethnic or religious non-Muslim minorities who are innocent victims of Communism.
China’s crackdown on Christians is only being mentioned in order to rally support for Islamic separatists.
But unlike China’s Muslims, its Christians don’t carry out terrorist attacks or agitate for ethnic separatism. (The same goes for China’s tiny Jewish population.) When China persecutes Christians, it’s a case of a totalitarian regime oppressing a peaceful religious group. However its crackdown on Islamists fighting for Turkestan is a struggle between two totalitarian movements and xenophobic ethnic groups.
Both of them are enemies of the United States. And there’s no reason for us to side with either one.
We have an unbroken track record of learning the hard way that when Islamists claim to be the victims of religious repression, supporting them will empower Islamic terrorists and cost American lives.
But the Senate can’t seem to go two months without dragging the United States into a fight that has nothing to do with our national interests and everything to do with foreign lobbyists in Washington D.C.
The bill repeatedly references the UN and its institutions as if they were authoritative. It cites “United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet”: a radical socialist supporter of Cuba’s Castro and Venezuela’s Chavez. The Trump administration had fought to stop her appointment.
But the Senate bill demands that President Trump “should develop a strategy to support the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights”: a figure that any conservative should oppose.
The Act is long on assorted accusations, but short on actual evidence. It quotes the conclusions of a UN Castro apologist and of the "Washington Post editorial board", the paper that outsourced its Khashoggi column to Qatar’s Islamists, and it also cites the always infallible, "independent media reports".
This is almost as good as the evidence that got us to back Islamist wars in Libya and Syria.
The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act would have us coordinate “diplomatic, political, public diplomacy, financial assistance, sanctions, counterterrorism and security resources” on behalf of Muslim separatists, backed by Turkey and Qatar, in the People’s Republic of China.
This move comes from some of the same Senate members who don’t want us picking a fight with China over its economic exploitation of Americas, but are happy to drag us into a fight over Islamism.
It might be understandable if we were picking this fight over China’s treatment of Christians. But instead, the Senate is once again putting Islamist priorities over the civil rights of Christians.
Not to mention our own national security.
The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act claims that the People’s Republic of China is only using terrorism as a pretext. (It actually writes “terrorism” and “separatism” in quotation marks as if they were imaginary phenomena.) While it’s reasonable to argue that the PRC’s crackdown has gone far beyond any terrorist population, there is no question that there have been Islamic terrorist attacks. Or that Islamists in China are allied with global Islamic terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and seek a separatist Islamic Turkic state.
The linkage extends even to the lobbying effort for the Uyghur in conservative circles.
Rushan Abbas has been making the case for the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act among conservatives. Before this, Abbas was best known as a Gitmo translator who lobbied on behalf of its Uyghur prisoners, some of whom were allegedly members of the terror group, the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement.
This fact is rarely shared with the conservative audiences who are invited to hear Abbas speak.
The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act brushes up against this reality without ever actually admitting it. It claims that the PRC's detention policies "appear to have contributed to the deaths of some detainees, including the elderly and infirm. Uyghurs Muhammed Salih Hajim... Abdulehed Mehsum." The Act appears uninterested in informing the Senate members voting on it who these gentlemen are.
Both were Islamic leaders in their eighties. They are often referred to as scholars. But then again, so was the Ayatollah Khomeini.
Sheikh Mehsum had been repeatedly locked up by Chinese authorities. That's not surprising since he wasn't just a top Islamic leader, but a member of the family of Muhammad Emin Bugra, who tried to set up the East Turkestan Republic, a Turkic Islamic separatist state in China in the 1930s.
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Hajim was a Koran translator. The Turkestan Islamic Party, an Islamic terror group allied with Al Qaeda that wants to create another East Turkestan, issued threats after his death.
But the Act insists that China is repressing “13,000,000 Turkic, moderate Sunni Muslims”.
Turkestan and Turkic are at the heart of the issue here. Words and names matter. Especially when dealing with nationalist movements. And the names used in the Act are both troubling and revealing.
The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act’s name is a case of bait and switch. While “Uyghur” is in the title, the actual bill, from its very opening, keeps referring to “ethnic Turkic Muslims”. And its first words declare that it means to “condemn gross human rights violations of ethnic Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang.”
What’s the difference?
Turkic Islamic nationalists identify as Turkic and hate the term Uyghur. But they're widely known abroad as Uyghur. Uyghur doesn't have any nationalist connotations. Turkic is a very blatant pitch for nationalism and separatism. The repeated use of the term in the Act highlights an unsubtle agenda.
This isn’t just about “religious” repression. It’s an endorsement of a separatist Turkic national identity.
And the Act’s insistence on repeatedly emphasizing Turkic identity raises serious questions about the role that Turkey and its lobbyist played in the so-called, Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act.
Most Muslim countries have been silent over China’s crackdown on Turkic Islamists. The exceptions have been Turkey, whose genocidal Islamist leader has vocally accused China of genocide, and Qatar. It’s no coincidence that the two major backers of Islamic terrorism, whose own political interests are deeply entangled, and have a history of supporting Islamist terrorist movements, are leading this fight.
Turkey’s interests in Xinyang are as blatant as the separatist flags of Islamic Turkestan frequently flown by its totalitarian regime. But the senators so eager to do Turkey’s bidding on Khashoggi or China, don’t seem all that interested in discussing its mass torture and repression of political opponents.
Islamists weaponize human rights to wage war on non-Muslims while offering no rights to non-Muslims. And their useful idiots always wave the banner of human rights when Islamists can’t win on their own, but show no interest in human rights in places like Turkey where Islamists have gained total power.
Qatar and Turkey, which seem to be able to get the Senate to jump through any Jihadist hoops they like, as they proved with Jamal Khashoggi and Yemen, are dragging us into their fight with China.
The United States should not allow itself be exploited as proxy in a Turkish nationalist struggle with China. Unfortunately, the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar and Turkey have the run of the Senate.
Even if the control of the White House that they enjoyed under Obama continues to elude them.
It’s possible to disagree with China’s tactics in cracking down on Islamic terrorism without actually climbing on board an Islamist crusade. This is a struggle between two enemies of the United States.
If Turkey and Qatar want a fight with China, they’re welcome to go fight. Instead they’re once again using the United States as their puppet in a conflict they’re too cowardly to fight themselves.
We should take on China on behalf of our economic interests, our territory and even the plight of Christians or the strategic threats to Taiwan. But should we take on China on behalf of Islamists?
We should not be picking a side.
Nor should Republican members of the Senate once again be backing an Islamist cause.
Once upon a time, we were told that Afghanistan was full of peaceful moderate Muslims oppressed by wicked Communists. We armed them and trained them. They murdered us by the thousands and they’re killing us still. Since then we’ve been sold the same bill of goods a dozen times over.
Americans have stopped falling for the same trick. Maybe it’s time the Senate stopped falling for it too.