torsdag 6. mai 2021

How the CCP Took over the Most Sacred of Uighur Rituals

Since 2015 Uighurs have had little choice but to host certain guests at their intimate gatherings. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) no longer stays in the background; rather, officials insist on being physically present. This further limits the ways Uighurs negotiate and express their identity in public. In its quest to secularize Uighur identity and customs, the CCP insists on peppering them with human and non-human symbols of the state, uprooting events from Uighur-organized spaces, and even muzzling sacred sounds ranging from the call to prayer to the names given to children.

Important lifecycle rituals—baby-namings, circumcision, funerals, and weddings—provide opportunities for devout and casually religious families alike to strengthen connections. These ceremonies recommit the community to a religious path while forging and reinforcing kinship bonds between relatives (oruq-tughan), neighbors (qoshna), and friends.

Currently, however, these rites—known generically in official Chinese sources as the “four activities” (si xiang huodong)—demand the overbearing presence of the state in a formalized process referred to as the four applications, four delegations, and four receipts. According to this policy, families intending to hold naming ceremonies, circumcisions, funerals, and weddings must first file an official application. Then an official from the village Party branch will accompany religious clerics to the event, which the Party branch documents in a receipt.