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|Christian Adherents:||0.05 %|
|Online Audio NT:||No|
|Affinity Bloc:||Turkic Peoples|
The Uyghur are a Turkic people whose home is primarily in northwestern China. Their origins can be traced back to Turkic nomads who lived in Siberia. They became independent of the Turks in 744 AD, but they were forced to leave their homeland in 840 AD. It was then that most of them immigrated to western China, where in modern times they have resided in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. China has chosen to use "Xinjiang" to designate the Uyghur region. The Uyghur people, though, prefer to use "East Turkestan" as the name of the area where they have lived for centuries. There is significance to these names. The Chinese name implies that it is part of China. East Turkestan implies that it is separate, and it emphasizes their Turkic roots. Uyghur literally means "allied. " For centuries, the Uyghur were an important link between China and the rest of the world. They lived along the legendary Silk Road and worked as caravan drivers transporting Chinese goods. The strategic locations of their homes allowed them to be the "middlemen" between East Asia and Europe. Significant diasporic communities of Uyghurs can be found in the Central Asian countries of Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Smaller communities live in other countries, including Afghanistan, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United States. The Uyghur of Central Asia play an important role in the lives of the Chinese Uyghur who are struggling to gain greater freedom. For example, they often help by smuggling needed materials into China. In China, there is evidence of much hostility, bitterness, hurt, and mistrust between the Uyghur and the predominant Han Chinese. Many Uyghurs have left China seeking better opportunities and more freedom for themselves and their children due to the systemic discrimination at the hands of the majority Han Chinese. This oppression has become more severe in recent decades given the Chinese government plan to gain greater control over the land and resources of Xinjiang. The Chinese government has turned the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region into a police state, in essence imprisoning Uyghur people in huge "re-education" camps. Uyghurs who have managed to escape China are usually better educated, but they are subject to Chinese spies in their new countries. These Uyghur refugees also struggle with trauma over the condition of loved ones left behind in China. The Iranian government has been silent on the persecution of Uyghurs in China, probably because the Chinese government has economic clout over them.
One major reason that Uyghurs go to Iran is to improve their education through attending post-secondary institutions. These Uyghur students resemble non-Uyghur students at schools, listening to music and playing sports in addition to pursuing their studies. Like other Uyghur students outside China, though, these students face the possibility that the Chinese government may demand they return home. An extra severe burden comes from the fear of what is happening (or has happened) to their Uyghur relatives back in Xinjiang, China. This creates a deeply troubling situation for Uyghurs seeking refuge; there is no safe place to go. Traditionally, the Uyghur were shepherds and oasis farmers. Today, however, many are involved in businesses that include manufacturing, mining, oil drilling, trading, and transportation. Their diet has been greatly influenced by their rural past. They prefer to eat meat and dairy products at every meal, but in an urban setting, that might not always be possible. The Uyghur love to drink tea with milk. Their staple foods also include noodles and round bread made from maize or wheat flour. Singing and dancing are important social activities among the Uyghurs. They play stringed, wind, and percussion instruments. The Mukam ("Twelve Great Melodies") have been part of Uyghur culture for many centuries.
Sunni Islam has been the dominant religion of the Uyghur since the tenth century. In the past, they were Muslim in name only; however, there is some renewal that is currently taking place among them as they continue in their Sunni Islamic faith.
In Iran, there are few if any followers of Christ among the Uyghurs. As Muslims, they are taught that Christianity poses a threat to their faith. The Bible has already been translated into the Uyghur language; Christian radio broadcasts and the JESUS Film are also available. In spite of these efforts, the Uyghurs remain basically untouched with the gospel. The eyes of the Uyghurs need to be opened to the saving truth of Jesus Christ. They need to experience the love and grace of the one, true God. This is also the best way for the Uyghur people to flourish as a unique culture under the God who loves all the varied peoples of the world.
Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through faithful intercession. Pray that the Lord will send his ambassadors to the Uyghurs in Iran. Pray for the Holy Spirit to anoint gospel radio broadcasts for Uyghurs and give them hearts willing to listen. Pray for effectiveness of the JESUS Film among the Uyghurs. Pray the Lord raises up strong local churches among the Uyghurs, which lead to unstoppable movements.