In the middle of the desert landscapes of Taklamakan, in the northern-west part of China, the province of Xinjiang is the least populated land while it covers near to a sixth with the nation's area. Having resisted during generations the Han Chinese control, Xinjiang, or Old East Turkistan, fell into under the Chinese Han domination in 1949. From then, its population is mostly Uyghurs and Turkic - speaking System.
Islamic mainly, the Uyghurs have a very good religious identification that, in specific, enabled them to preserve a solid difference in opposition to the Chinese invader. Really, the Uyghur Kingdom of Mongolia knew a great civilization, until its absorption by the Mongolian Empire in the XIIIth century.
During their own background, 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., therefore opening the way to the Islamization of the entire Central Asia.
Under the influence of the beliefs which they taken, Uyghur People 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 coming of Islam was a great modification simply because it was accompanied by the assimilation of the Uyghur areas in the immense Turkic and Islamic Kingdom. Thus, the descendants of Genghis Khan slowly replaced their writing by a Arabo-Persan alphabet, still used currently.
If their own writing, their own language and their religion mark a real difference with the tradition of Chinese Han, Uyghur People also differ from their characteristic, so characteristic of Central Asia's people. A shiny skin, eyes representing a whole pallet of colors, from black to deep blue, features pointing out to the Mongolian, Turkish or Uzbek roots of these men and these women.
For a few years, China has included the proper identity of these remote people, though they represent only eight million population - a little for this specific huge country. Thus, Uyghur people are now part of the 56 racial minority groups having been well-known in an official way by the People's Republic of China.
This law allows these people a few rights in a land where their big difference is very often repressed. Therefore, Uyghur families escape the "single child policy" and their language is accepted as the second official language in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
The integration of the Uyghurs and their culture in the People's Republic of China, however, looks quite illusory. The presence of all natural resources in Xinjiang, and its distance with nations identified as very sensitive, highly encouraged the government to increase the sinicization of this area. Million of Han thus came to settle in this new Chinese eldorado, monopolizing the larger responsibility job opportunities.
In response to this true will to assimilate the Uyghur people into the Chinese culture, an independent party like East Turkistan Islamic Movement(ETIM) was born in the early 1990.
Asserting more freedom, but especially the acceptance of their true identity, this movement was severely repressed by the power authorities in place Xinjiang.
The situations 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 Uyghur peoples population continues today to proudly keep their identity and their civilization , although they become a minority on their own land.