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A prayer for peace in Xinjiang Province, China

A Christian Science perspective.

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The growing tension in Xinjiang, between the Han Chinese and the local Uighur people – a Muslim people of Turkic descent – has broken into widening violence. Stories from Urumqi, the capital of this western province of China, report protests by both ethnic groups, resulting in riots with over 150 deaths.

The Uighurs fear the loss of their status and culture under massive inbound Han migration, which has made Urumqi an overwhelmingly Han city in Xinjiang. And the Chinese believe the province to be an integral part of China from imperial times. The conflict has been compared with the violence in Tibet that occurred in the spring of 2008.

Last year, I made my third visit to the region. I've walked the streets and bazaars of Urumqi, Kashgar, and other towns in Xinjiang. I was able to visit the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar – one of the largest in China – when prayers were not in session, and found it to be one of the most peaceful places in that bustling country.

Loving the province and its people, I felt drawn to pray in support of peace in the area. I'm struck by the desire of both sides for respect – the Uighur desire for respect for their culture, especially their religion; the Chinese desire for international respect for China and Chinese culture.

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