Persecution of Muslims

Persecution of Muslims is the religious persecution inflicted upon the followers of the Islamic faith. This page lists incidents of ethnic cleansing in both medieval and modern history in which Muslim populations have been targeted by non-Muslim groups.


See also: Shaheed

Early Islam

In the early days of Islam at Mecca, the new Muslims were often subjected to abuse and persecution by the pagan Meccans (often called Mushrikin: the unbelievers or polytheists). Some were killed, such as Sumayyah bint Khabbab, the seventh convert to Islam, who was allegedly tortured first by Amr ibn Hishām.[1][2] Even Muhammad was subjected to such abuse; while he was praying near the Kaaba, Aqaba Bin Muiitt threw the entrails of a sacrificed camel over him. Abu Lahab's wife Umm Jamil would regularly dump filth outside his door and placed thorns in the path to his house.[3]

Accordingly, if free Muslims were attacked, slaves who converted were subjected to far worse. The master of the Ethiopian Bilal ibn Rabah (who would become the first muezzin) would take him out into the desert in the boiling heat of midday and place a heavy rock on his chest, demanding that he forswear his religion and pray to the polytheists' gods and goddesses, until Abu Bakr bought him and freed him.[4][5]


The First Crusade was launched in 1095 by Pope Urban II, with the stated goal of regaining control of the sacred city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the Muslims, who had captured them from the Byzantines in 638, and who by 1050 destroyed the main Christian shrines and churches in Jerusalem. The Muslim leader, Al Hakim of Cairo blew up the ancient and magnificent Constantine Church of the Holy Sepulcher in 1009, as well as most other Christian churches and shrines in the Holy Land.

This, in conjunction with the killings of Germanic pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem from Byzantium, raised the anger of Europe, and inspired Pope Urban II to call on all Catholic Rulers, Knights and Gentleman to recapture the Holy Land from Muslim rule.

It was also partly a response to the Investiture Controversy, which was the most significant conflict between secular and religious powers in medieval Europe. The controversy began as a dispute between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Gregorian Papacy and gave rise to the political concept of Christendom as a union of all peoples and sovereigns under the direction of the pope; as both sides tried to marshal public opinion in their favor, people became personally engaged in a dramatic religious controversy. Also of great significance in launching the crusade were the string of victories by the Seljuk Turks, which saw the end of Arab rule in Jerusalem.

Capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders in 1099

On 7 May 1099 the crusaders reached Jerusalem, which had been recaptured from the Seljuks by the Fatimids of Egypt only a year before. On 15 July, the crusaders were able to end the siege by breaking down sections of the walls and entering the city. Over the course of that afternoon, evening and next morning, the crusaders killed almost every inhabitant of Jerusalem. Muslims and Jews alike. Although many Muslims sought shelter atop the Temple Mount inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the crusaders spared few lives. According to the anonymous Gesta Francorum, in what some believe to be one of the most valuable contemporary sources of the First Crusade, "...the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles...."[6] Tancred claimed the Temple quarter for himself and offered protection to some of the Muslims there, but he was unable to prevent their deaths at the hands of his fellow crusaders. According to Fulcher of Chartres: "Indeed, if you had been there you would have seen our feet coloured to our ankles with the blood of the slain. But what more shall I relate? None of them were left alive; neither women nor children were spared."[7]

During the First Crusade and the massacre at Jerusalem, it has been reported that the Crusaders "[circled] the screaming, flame-tortured humanity singing 'Christ We Adore Thee!' with their Crusader crosses held high".[8] Muslims were indiscriminately killed, and Jews who had taken refuge in their Synagogue were killed when it was burnt down by the Crusaders.


The island of Sicily was early on targeted by the Muslims, the first raid occurring in 652, only a few years after the establishment of the first Muslim navy. Following the onset of Muslim attacks against North Africa, it became a crucial strategic base, and for a while, in 661–668, it was the residence of the imperial court under Constans II. Constituted as a theme around 690, its governing strategos also came to assume control over the scattered imperial possessions in the southern Italian mainland. The island was raided thereafter, especially in the first half of the 8th century, but did not come under serious threat until the Muslims completed their conquest of North Africa and moved into Hispania as well. Sicily had been raided by the Muslims since the mid-7th century. With the aid of reinforcements from Ifriqiya and al-Andalus, in 831 they took Palermo, which became the capital of the new Muslim province. The fall of Palermo marks a decisive step in the Muslim conquest of Sicily: the Muslims gained not only an important military base, but possession of the city—henceforth known simply as al-Madina ("the City")—allowed them to consolidate their control over the western portion of the island. The city suffered greatly during the siege; the Arab historian Ibn al-Athir, records with exaggeration that the city's population fell from 70,000 to 3,000, who were taken as slaves. The fall of the last major Byzantine fortress, Taormina, in 902, is held to mark the completion of the Muslim conquest-jihad of Sicily. At first, the Muslim populations did well in Sicily in the first 100 years after the Norman conquest which ended their colonial Emirate of Sicily. Arabs remained privileged in the matters of government. Indeed, 4000 Saracen archers took part in various battles between Christian forces. When the Normans and later the House of Anjou lost control of the Island to Peter of Aragon, Islam began to decline. Norman rulers followed a policy of steadily Latinization (converting the island to Catholicism). Some Muslims chose the option of feigning conversion, but such a remedy could only provide individual protection and could not sustain a community.[9]

Lombard pogroms against Muslims started in the 1160s. Muslim and Christian communities in Sicily became increasingly geographically separated. The island’s Muslim communities were mainly isolated beyond an internal frontier which divided the south-western half of the island from the Christian north-east. Sicilian Muslims, a subject population, were dependent on royal protection. When King William the Good died in 1189, this royal protection was lifted, and the door was opened for widespread attacks against the island’s Muslims. Islam was no longer a major presence in the Island by the 14th century. Toleration of Muslims ended with Increasing Hohenstaufen control. Many repressive measures, passed by Frederick II, were introduced in order to please the Popes who could not tolerate Islam being practiced in the heart of Christendom,[10] which resulted in a rebellion of Sicily's Muslims.[11] This in turn triggered organized resistance and systematic reprisals[12] and marked the final chapter of Islam in Sicily. The rebellion abated, but direct papal pressure induced Frederick to mass transfer all his Muslim subjects deep into the Italian hinterland, to Lucera.[11]

In 1224, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, responding to religious uprisings in Sicily, expelled all Muslims from the island, transferring many to Lucera (Lugêrah, as it was known in Arabic) over the next two decades. In this controlled environment, they could not challenge royal authority and they benefited the crown in taxes and military service. Their numbers eventually reached between 15,000 and 20,000, leading Lucera to be called Lucaera Saracenorum because it represented the last stronghold of Islamic presence in Italy. During peacetime, Muslims in Lucera were predominantly farmers. They grew durum wheat, barley, legumes, grapes and other fruits. Muslims also kept bees for honey.[13]

The Lucera colony thrived for 75 years until it was sacked in 1300 by Christian forces under the command of Charles II of Naples. The majority of the city's Muslim inhabitants were slaughtered or – as happened to almost 10,000 of them – sold into slavery,[14] or exiled, with many finding asylum in Albania across the Adriatic Sea.[15] Their abandoned mosques were demolished, and churches were usually built in their place, including the cathedral of S. Maria della Vittoria.[16]

Mongol invasions

Genghis Khan, and the following Yuan Emperors in China forbade Islamic practices like halal butchering, forcing Mongol methods of butchering animals on Muslims, and other restrictive degrees continued. Muslims had to slaughter sheep in secret.[17] Genghis Khan directly called Muslims "slaves", and demanded that they follow the Mongol method of eating rather than the halal method. Circumcision was also forbidden.[18][19] Toward the end, corruption and the persecution became so severe that Muslim generals joined Han Chinese in rebelling against the Mongols. The Ming founder Zhu Yuanzhang had Muslim generals like Lan Yu who rebelled against the Mongols and defeated them in combat. Some Muslim communities had the name "kamsia," which, in Hokkien Chinese, means "thank you"; many Hui Muslims claim it is because that they played an important role in overthrowing the Mongols and it was named in thanks by the Han Chinese for assisting them.[20] The Muslims in the Semu class also revolted against the Yuan dynasty in the Ispah Rebellion but the rebellion was crushed and the Muslims were massacred by the Yuan loyalist commander Chen Youding.

Site where the Mongol ruler Hulegu Khan destroyed a Baghdad mosque during the sack of Baghdad.

Following the brutal Mongol invasion of Central Asia under Genghis Khan, and after the sack of Baghdad, the Mongol Empire's rule extended across most Muslim lands in Asia. The Abbasid caliphate was destroyed and the Islamic civilization, especially Mesopotamia, suffered much devastation and was replaced by Tengriism and Buddhism as the official religion of the empire.[21] However, the Mongols attacked people for goods and riches and not because of their religion. Many later Mongol khans and rulers became Muslims themselves like Oljeitu and other Ilkhanid and Golden Horde rulers and inhabitants. There was no real effort to replace Islam with any other religion, but to plunder goods from anyone that didn't submit, which was characteristic to Mongol warfare. During the Yuan Dynasty that the Mongols founded, Muslim scientists were highly regarded and Muslim beliefs were respected in the Yuan Dynasty. On the Mongol attacks, the Muslim historian, ibn al-Athir lamented:

I shrank from giving a recital of these events on the account of their magnitude and abhorrence. Even now I come reluctant to the task, for who would deem it a light thing to sing the death song of Islam and the Muslims or find it easy to tell this tale? O that my mother had not given me birth![22]

Among the detailed atrocities include:

At the intervention of the Mongol Hulagu's Nestorian Christian wife, Dokuz Khatun, the Christian inhabitants were spared.[24][25] Hulagu offered the royal palace to the Nestorian Catholicos Mar Makikha, and ordered a cathedral to be built for him.[26] Ultimately, the seventh ruler of the Ilkhanate dynasty, Mahmud Ghazan, converted to Islam from Tengrism, and thus began the gradual trend of the decline of Tengrism and Buddhism in the region and renaissance of Islam. Later, three of the four principal Mongol khanates embraced Islam.[27]

Iberian Peninsula

Arabs relying largely on Berbers conquered the Iberian Peninsula starting in 711, subduing the whole Visigothic Kingdom by 725. The triumphant Umayyads got conditional capitulations probably in most of the towns, so that they could get a compromise with the native population. This was not always so. For example, Mérida, Cordova, Toledo, or Narbonne were conquered by storm or after laying siege on them. The arrangement reached with the locals was based on respecting the laws and traditions used in each place, so that the Goths (a legal concept, not an ethnic one, i.e. the communities ruled by the Forum Iudicum) continued to be ruled on new conditions by their own tribunals and laws.[28] The Gothic Church remained in place and collaborated with the new masters. Al-Andalus or Muslim ruled Iberian peninsula, was conquered by northern Christian kingdoms in 1492, as a result of their expansion taking place especially after the definite collapse of the Caliphate of Cordova in 1031.

The coming of the Crusades (starting with the massacre of Barbastro) and similarly entrenched positions on the northern African Almoravids, who took over al-Andalus as of 1086, added to the difficult coexistence between communities, including Muslims in Christian ruled territory, or the Mozarabic rite Christians (quite different from those of the northern kingdoms), and further minority groups. The Almohads, a fanatic north African sect, pushed the boundaries of religious intolerance during their occupation of al-Andalus, affecting also the Jews.[29]

During the expansion south of the northern Christian kingdoms, depending on the local capitulations, local Muslims were allowed to remain (Mudéjars) with some restrictions, while some were assimilated into the Christian faith. After the conquest of Granada, all the Spanish Muslims were under Christian rule. The new acquired population spoke Arabic or Mozarabic, and the campaigns to convert them were unsuccessful. Legislation was gradually introduced to remove Islam, culminating with the Muslims being forced to convert to Catholicism by the Spanish Inquisition. They were known as Moriscos and considered New Christians. Further laws were introduced, as on 25 May 1566, stipulating that they 'had to abandon the use of Arabic, change their costumes, that their doors must remain open every Friday, and other feast days, and that their baths, public and private, to be torn down.'[30] The reason doors were to be left open so as to determine whether they secretly observed any Islamic festivals.[31] King Philip II of Spain ordered the destruction of all public baths on the grounds of them being relics of infidelity, notorious for their use by Muslims performing their purification rites.[32][33] The possession of books or papers in Arabic was near concrete proof of disobedience with severe repercussions.[34] On 1 January 1568, Christian priests were ordered to take all Morisco children between the ages of three and fifteen, and place them in schools, where they should learn Castillian and Christian doctrine.[35] All these laws and measures required force to be implemented, and from much earlier.

Between 1609 and 1614 the Moriscos were expelled from Spain.[36] They were to depart 'under the pain of death and confiscation, without trial or sentence... to take with them no money, bullion, jewels or bills of exchange... just what they could carry.'[37]

Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

See also: Lipka Rebellion

The Lipka Tatars, also known as Polish Tatars or Lithuanian Tatars, were a community of Tatar Muslims who migrated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and became Polonized.

The Counter-Reformation of the Catholic Church in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth led to persecution of Muslims, Jews, and Orthodox Christians. The ways the Muslims were persecuted included banning the repair of old mosques and preventing new ones from being constructed, banning serfdom of Christians under Muslims, banning marriage of Christian females to Muslims, putting limitations on property ownership among Tatars and the Ottoman-Polish conflict fed into the discriminatory atmosphere against them and led to anti-Islamic writings and attacks.[38]

Sikhs and Sikh Empire

Following the Sikh occupation of Samana in 1709, the Sikh army participated in a massacre of the city's residents. 10,000 unarmed Muslim men and women were slain.[39] Following the Siege of Sirhind, Banda Singh Bahadur ordered that all men, women and children be executed.[39] All residents of Sirhind, whether they were men, women or children were all burned alive or slain.[39] In December 1757, Sikhs pillaged the Doab and the city of Jullunder.[40] During this pillaging, "Children were put to the sword, women were dragged out and forcibly converted to Sikhism" and Mosques were defiled by pigs blood.[40] The body of Nassir Ali was dug out by Sikhs and flesh was thrust into it.[40]

Ranjit Singh went to Peshawar and pillaged the city, cut down trees for which the city was famous, burnt the palace of Bala Hissar and its mosque was defiled. Diwan Chand became the first Hindu Governor of Kashmir after 1354AD and enacted dozens of anti-Muslim laws. He raised the tax on Muslims, demolished the Jama Masjid of Srinagar and prohibited cow slaughter. The punishment for cow slaughter was the death penalty without any exception. He abducted all the Pashtun and Uzbek women and infamously sold them at Hira Mandi, a very popular market in Lahore (the Sikh Empire Capital).[41][42][43] Maharaja Ranjit Singh in lieu of helping Shah Shuja the grandson of Ahmad Shah Durrani asked for the ban of cow slaughter in Afghanistan and with Ranjit Singh's help, Shuja regained the Kabul Throne and imposed a ban on cow slaughter in Kabul.[44]

Sayyid Ahmed Barelvi declared war against Maharaja Ranjit Singh and recruited many Muslims from madrassas. However the Yousufzai and Muhammadzai Khawaneen didn't like his egalitarian ideals and betrayed Sayyid Ahmed Shahid and his army at the battle of Balakot and supported the Sikh Army in the Battle of Balakote in 1831, and Barelvi's head was severed by Sikh General Hari Singh Nalwa.[45][46]

Muslims still revered Sayyid Ahmad, however he was defeated and killed in the battle by Sikh Forces commanded by Hari Singh Nalwa and Gulab Singh.[47] Raja Aggar Khan of Rajaouri was defeated, humiliated by the Ranjit Singh commander Gulab Singh and was brought to Lahore where he was beheaded by Gulab Singh of Jammu.[48]

Modern era

Asia Minor

In retaliation for the Armenian and Greek Genocides, many Muslims (Turkish and Kurdish) were killed by Russians and Armenians in Western Armenia (including Bayburt, Bitlis, Erzincan, Erzurum, Kars and Mus),[49][50] On May 14, 1919 the Greek army landed in Izmir (Smyrna) which marked the beginning of the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922). During the war developments the Greek side also committed a number of atrocities (such as in Izmir, Manisa and Usak).[51]

Johannes Kolmodin was a Swedish orientalist in Izmir. He wrote in his letters that the Greek army had burned 250 Turkish villages.[52]

Eastern Europe (Balkans)

Male mourners at the reburial ceremony for an exhumed victim of the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia.

As the Ottoman Empire entered a permanent phase of decline in the late 17th century it was engaged in a protracted state of conflict, losing territories both in Europe and the Caucasus. The victors were the Christian States, the old Habsburg and Romanov Empires and the new nation-states of Greece, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria.[53] Rival European powers encouraged the development of nationalist ideologies among the Ottoman subjects in which the Muslims were portrayed as an ethnic "fifth column" leftover from a previous era that could not be integrated into the planned future states. The struggle to rid themselves of Ottomans became an important element of the self-identification of the Balkan Christians.[54]

According to Mark Levene, the Victorian public in the 1870s paid much more attention to the massacres and expulsions of Christians than to massacres and expulsions of Muslims, even if on a greater scale. He further suggests that such massacres were even favored by some circles. Mark Levene also argues that the dominant powers, by supporting "nation-statism" at the Congress of Berlin, legitimized "the primary instrument of Balkan nation-building": ethnic cleansing.[55] Hall points out that atrocities were committed by all sides during the Balkan conflicts. Deliberate terror was designed to instigate population movements out of particular territories. The aim of targeting the civilian population was to carve ethnically homogeneous countries.[56]

During the Russo-Turkish War of 1787–1792 the Russian Army commander Alexander Suvorov successfully besieged the fortress of Izmail on December 22, 1790. Ottoman forces inside the fortress had the orders to stand their ground to the end, haughtily declining the Russian ultimatum. Alexander Suvorov announced the capture of Ismail in 1791 to the Tsaritsa Catherine in a doggerel couplet, after the assault had been pressed from house to house, room to room, and nearly every Muslim man, woman, and child in the city had been killed in three days of uncontrolled massacre, 40,000 Turks dead, a few hundred taken into captivity. For all his bluffness, Suvorov later told an English traveller that when the massacre was over he went back to his tent and wept.[57]

Justin McCarty estimates that between 1821 and 1922 around five and a half million Muslims were driven out of Europe and five million more were killed or died of disease and starvation while fleeing.[58] Cleansing occurred as a result of the Serbian and Greek independence in the 1820s and 1830s, the Russo-Turkish War 1877–1878, and culminating in the Balkan Wars 1912–1913. Mann describes these acts as "murderous ethnic cleansing on stupendous scale not previously seen in Europe" referring to the 1914 Carnegie Endowment report.[59][60] It is estimated that at the turn of the 20th century there were 4,4 million Muslims living in the Balkan zone of Ottoman control.[61] More than one million Muslims left the Balkans in the last three decades of the 19th century.[62] Between 1912 and 1926 nearly 2.9 million Muslims were either killed or forced to emigrate to Turkey.[61]

Between 10,000[63] and 30,000[64][65][66] Turks were killed in Tripolitsa by Greek rebels in the summer of 1821, including the entire Jewish population of the city. Similar events as these occurred elsewhere during the Greek Revolution resulting in the eradication and expulsion of virtually the entire Turkish population of the Morea. These acts ensured the ethnic homogenization of the area under the rule of the future modern Greek state.[67] According to claims by Turkish delegations, in 1878 the Muslim inhabitants in Thessaly are estimated to be 150,000 and in 1897 the Muslims numbered 50,000 in Crete. By 1919 there were virtually no Muslims left in Thessaly and only 20,000 in Crete.[68]

In the Bulgarian insurgency of the April Uprising in 1876 an estimate of 1,000 Muslims were killed.[69][70] During the Russo-Turkish War a significant number of Turks were either killed, perished or became refugees. There are different estimates about the casualties of the war. Crampton describes an exodus of 130,000-150,000 expelled of which approximately half returned for an intermediary period encouraged by the Congress of Berlin. Hupchick and McCarthy point out that 260,000 perished and 500,000 became refugees.[71][72] The Turkish scholars Karpat and Ipek argue that up to 300,000 were killed and 1–1.5 million were forced to emigrate.[73][74] Members of the European press who covered the war in Bulgaria reported on the Russian atrocities against Muslims. Witness accounts from Schumla and Razgrad describe children, women and elderly wounded by sabres and lances. They stated that the entire Muslim population of many villages had been massacred.[75] Recently uncovered photographs in the archive of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the Russo-Turkish War 1877–1878 show the massacre of Muslims by the Russians in the region of Stara Zagora claiming to have affected some 20,000 Muslim civilians.[76]

Massacres against Turks and Muslims during the Balkan Wars in the hands of Bulgarians, Greeks and Armenians are described in detail in the 1912 Carnegie Endowment report.[77] The Bulgarian violence during the Balkan War included burning of villages, transforming mosques into churches, rape of women and mutilation of bodies. It is estimated that 220,000 Pomaks were forcefully Christianized and forbidden to bear Islamic religious clothing.[78]


War distribution clothing to Bulgarian Muslim refugees in Shumla from The Illustrated London News 17th Nov 1877.

Half a million Muslims succeeded in reaching Ottoman controlled lands and 672,215 were reported to have remained after the war. Approximately a quarter of a million perished from massacres, cold, disease and other harsh conditions.[79] According to Aubaret, the French Consul in Ruse in 1876 in the Danube Vilayet which also included Northern Dobruja in today's Romania, as well as substantial territory in today's southern Serbia, there were 1,120,000 Muslims and 1,233,500 non-Muslims of whom 1,150,000 were Bulgarian. Between 1876 and 1878, through massacres, epidemics, hunger and war a large portion of the Turkish population vanished.[80]


The Cham Muslims suffered serious purges with as much as half of their population exterminated by communists in Cambodia during the 1970s.[81] About half a million Muslims were killed. According to Cham sources, 132 mosques were destroyed during the Khmer Rouge. Only 20 of the previous 113 most prominent Cham clergy in Cambodia survived the Khmer Rouge period.[82]


The Dungan revolt erupted due to infighting between different Muslim Sufi sects, the Khafiya and the Jahariyya, and the Gedimu. When the rebellion failed, mass-immigration of the Dungan people into Imperial Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan ensued. Before the war, the population of Shaanxi province totalled approximately 13 million inhabitants, at least 1,750,000 of whom were Dungan (Hui). After the war, the population dropped to 7 million; at least 150,000 fled. But once-flourishing Chinese Muslim communities fell 93% in the revolt in Shaanxi province. Between 1648 and 1878, around twelve million Hui and Han Chinese were killed in ten unsuccessful uprisings.[83][84]

The revolts were harshly suppressed by the Manchu government in a manner that amounts to genocide.[85][86][87][88] Approximately a million people in the Panthay rebellion were killed,[89][90] and several million in the Dungan revolt[90] as a "washing off the Muslims"(洗回 (xi Hui)) policy had been long advocated by officials in the Manchu government.[91] Many Chinese Muslim generals like Ma Zhanao, Ma Anliang, Ma Qianling, Dong Fuxiang, Ma Haiyan, and Ma Julung helped the Qing dynasty defeat the rebel Muslims, and were rewarded, and their followers were spared from the genocide. The Han Chinese Qing general Zuo Zongtang even relocated the Han from the suburbs Hezhou when the Muslims there surrendered as a reward so that Hezhou (now Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture) is still heavily Muslim to this day and is the most important city for Hui Muslims in China. The Muslims were granted amnesty and allowed to live as long as they stayed outside the city.[92] Some of the Muslims who fought, like General Dong, did not do it because they were Muslim, rather, like many other generals, they gathered bands of followers and fought at will.[93][94]

During the revolt, Uzbek Muslim forces under Yaqub Beg carried out massacres on Dungan Muslims. In one instance, they massacred Dungans in Ili, in the Battle of Ürümqi (1870). The Uzbeks even enlisted non-Muslim Han Chinese militia to help kill Dungans and conquer Xinjiang.[95]


Various sources criticize the claims that the Dungan and Panthay Revolts were due to religious persecution by the Qing.

The Dungan and Panthay Revolts by the Hui occurred because of racial antagonism and class warfare, not purely religious strife as is sometimes mistakenly assumed.[96]

The Panthay rebellion was not religious in nature, since the Muslims were joined by non-Muslim Shan and Kakhyen and other hill tribes in the revolt.[97] A British officer testified that the Muslims did not rebel for religious reasons, and that the Chinese were tolerant of different religions and were unlikely to have caused the revolt by interfering with the practicing of Islam.[98] In addition, loyalist Muslim forces helped the Qing crush the rebel Muslims.[99]

Du Wenxiu was not aiming his rebellion at Han, but was anti-Qing and wanted to destroy the Manchu government. During the revolt Hui from provinces which were not in rebellion, like Sichuan and Zhejiang, served as negotiators between rebel Hui and the Qing government. One of Du Wenxiu's banners said "Deprive the Manchu Qing of their Mandate to Rule" (革命滿清), and he called on Han to assist Hui to overthrow the Manchu regime and drive them out of China.[100][101] Du's forces led multiple non-Muslim forces, including Han Chinese, Li, Bai, and Hani.[102] Du Wenxiu also called for unity between Muslim Hui and Han. He was quoted as saying "our army has three tasks: to drive out the Manchus, unite with the Chinese, and drive out traitors."[103]

Muslims in other parts of China proper such as the east and southern provinces who did not revolt were not affected at all by the rebellion, and experienced no genocide, nor did they seek to revolt. It was reported that Muslim villages in Henan province, which was next to Shaanxi, were totally unaffected by the Dungan revolt and relations between Han and Hui continued normally. Muslims from eastern China like Ma Xinyi continued to serve in the Chinese government during the revolt, and ignored the Muslims of northwest China.

Street demonstration with banners, passing an official building
Demonstration in Berlin for Uyghur human rights.

The Hui Muslims in Xi'an city in Shaanxi province were completely spared from reprisals by General Zuo Zongtang and allowed to stay in Xi'an after the war since they never joined the Hui rebels in the rural areas of Shaanxi, despite the fact that Shaanxi was the epicenter of the Dungan rebellion. The Muslim quarter still exists in Xi'an to this day with the Hui people living inside it.

The Muslims of Xining were also spared by Zuo after his forces captured the city from the rebels. Zuo differentiated between rebels and "good Muslims", seeking arrangements to resettle Muslim refugees in new areas to avoid future conflict. Zuo Zongtang resettled Hui refugees from Shaanxi in southern Gansu province after defeating the rebels in Xining and Suzhou. Zuo offered amnesty to Gedimu Sunni and Khufiyya Sufi rebels who surrendered.

Elisabeth Allès wrote that the relationship between Hui Muslim and Han peoples continued normally in the Henan area, with no ramifications or consequences from th Muslim rebellions of other areas. Allès wrote in the document "Notes on some joking relationships between Hui and Han villages in Henan" published by French Centre for Research on Contemporary China that "The major Muslim revolts in the middle of the nineteenth century which involved the Hui in Shaanxi, Gansu and Yunnan, as well as the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, do not seem to have had any direct effect on this region of the central plain."[104] The Hui Muslim population of Beijing was unaffected by the Muslim rebels during the Dungan revolt.[105]

Gedimu Hanafi Sunni Muslims tried to distance themselves from the Jahriyya Sufi rebels. Some of them even helped the Qing dynasty crush the Sufi rebels.[106]

The rebels were disorganized and without a common purpose. Some Han Chinese rebelled against the Qing state during the rebellion, and rebel bands fought each other. The main Hui rebel leader, Ma Hualong, was even granted a military rank and title during the rebellion by the Qing dynasty. It was only later when Zuo Zongtang launched his campaign to pacify the region, did he decide which rebels who surrendered were going to be executed, or spared.[107]

Zuo Zongtang generally massacred New Teaching Jahriyya rebels, even if they surrendered, but spared Old Teaching Khafiya and Sunni Gedimu rebels. Ma Hualong belonged to the New Teaching school of thought, and Zuo executed him, while Hui generals belonging to the Old Teaching clique such as Ma Qianling, Ma Zhan'ao and Ma Anliang were granted amnesty and even promoted in the Qing military. Moreover, an army of Han Chinese rebels led by Dong Fuxiang surrendered and joined Zuo Zongtang.[107] General Zuo accepted the surrender of Hui people belonging to the Old Teaching school, provided they surrendered large amounts of military equipment and supplies, and accepted relocation. He refused to accept the surrender of New Teaching Muslims who still believed in its tenets, since the Qing classified them as a dangerous heterodox cult, similar to the White Lotus Buddhists. Zuo said, "The only distinction is between the innocent and rebellious, there is none between Han and Hui".[108]

The Qing authorities decreed that the Hui rebels who had taken part in violent attacks were merely heretics and not representative of the entire Hui population, just as the heretical White Lotus did not represent all Buddhists.[109] Qing authorities decreed that there were two different Muslim sects, the "old" religion and "new" religion. The new were heretics and deviated from Islam in the same way that the White Lotus deviated from Buddhism and Daoism, and stated its intention to inform the Hui community that it was aware that the original Islamic religion was one united sect before the advent of new "heretics", saying they would separate Muslim rebels by which sect they belonged to.[110]

Zuo also stated that he would accept the surrender of New Teaching Muslims who admitted that they were deceived, radicalized, and misled by its doctrines. Zuo excluded khalifas and mullas from the surrender.[111]

As noted in the previously, Zuo relocated Han Chinese from Hezhou as a reward for the Hui leader Ma Zhan'ao after he and his followers surrendered and joined the Qing to crush the rebels. Zuo also moved Shaanxi Muslim refugees from Hezhou, only allowing native Gansu Muslims to stay behind. Ma Zhanao and his Hui forces were then recruited into the Green Standard Army of the Qing military.[112]

The Qing dynasty did not persecute Muslims systematically, it only massacred rebels regardless of their religion, when the Muslim General Ma Rulong defected to the Qing Dynasty, he became the most powerful military official in Yunnan province.[107]

The Qing armies only massacred the Muslims who had rebelled, and spared Muslims who took no part in the uprising.[113]

Hui Muslims and Uyghur Muslims massacred each other in the Battle of Kashgar (1933), Kizil massacre, Battle of Kashgar (1934), Battle of Yarkand, Battle of Yangi Hissar, Charkhlik Revolt, during the Kumul Rebellion. More massacres occurred during the Ili Rebellion.

Tensions between Hui and Uyghurs arose because Hui troops and officials often dominated the Uyghurs and crush Uyghur revolts.[114] Xinjiang's Hui population increased by over 520 percent between 1940 and 1982, an average annual growth of 4.4 percent, while the Uyghur population only grew at 1.7 percent. This dramatic increase in Hui population led inevitably to significant tensions between the Hui and Uyghur populations. Some Uyghurs in Kashgar remember that the Hui army at the Battle of Kashgar (1934) massacred 2,000 to 8,000 Uyghurs, which causes tension as more Hui moved into Kashgar from other parts of China.[115] Some Hui criticize Uyghur separatism and generally do not want to get involved in conflict in other countries.[116] Hui and Uyghur live separately, attending different mosques.[117]

During the Cultural Revolution, mosques along with other religious buildings were often defaced, destroyed or closed and copies of the Quran were destroyed and cemeteries by the Red Guards.[118] During that time, the government also constantly accused Muslims and other religious groups of holding "superstitious beliefs" and promoting "anti-socialist trends".[119] The government began to relax its policies towards Muslims in 1978, and supported worship and rituals. Today, Islam is experiencing a modest revival and there are now[120] many mosques in China. There has been an upsurge in Islamic expression and many nationwide Islamic associations have been organized to co-ordinate inter-ethnic activities among Muslims.[121]

However, restrictions have been applied to Uyghur Islamic practices because the Chinese government has attempted since 2001 to link Islamic beliefs with terrorist activities. Numerous events have led the government to crack down on most displays of Islamic piety among Uyghurs, including the wearing of veils and long beards. The Ghulja Incident and July 2009 Ürümqi riots have both resulted from abusive treatment of Uyghur Muslims within Chinese society, and resulted in ever more extreme government crackdowns. While Hui Muslims are seen as relatively docile, Uyghurs are stereotyped as Islamists and punished more strictly for crimes. In 1989 China banned a book titled "Xing Fengsu" ("Sexual Customs") which insulted Islam and placed its authors under arrest after protests in Lanzhou and Beijing by Uyghurs and Hui Muslims.[122][123][124][125][126][127][128][129][130][131] Hui Muslims who vandalized property during the protests against the book went unpunished while Uyghur protestors were imprisoned.[132]

Sino-Japanese War

During the Second Sino-Japanese war the Japanese followed what has been referred to as a "killing policy" and destroyed many mosques. According to Wan Lei, "Statistics showed that the Japanese destroyed 220 mosques and killed countless Hui people by April 1941." After the Rape of Nanking mosques in Nanjing were found to be filled with dead bodies.They also followed a policy of economic oppression which involved the destruction of mosques and Hui communities and made many Hui jobless and homeless. Another policy was one of deliberate humiliation. This included soldiers smearing mosques with pork fat, forcing Hui to butcher pigs to feed the soldiers, and forcing girls to supposedly train as geishas and singers but in fact made them serve as sex slaves. Hui cemeteries were destroyed for military reasons.[133] Many Hui fought in the war against Japan.

Imperial Japan in World War II

Imperial Japanese forces slaughtered, raped, and tortured Rohingya Muslims in a massacre in 1942 and expelled tens of thousands of Rohingya into Bengal in British India. The Japanese committed countless acts of rape, murder and torture against thousands of Rohingyas.[134] During this period, some 22,000 Rohingyas are believed to have crossed the border into Bengal, then part of British India, to escape the violence.[135][136] Defeated, 40,000 Rohingyas eventually fled to Chittagong after repeated massacres by the Burmese and Japanese forces.[137]

Japanese forces also carried out massacres, torture and atrocities on Muslim Moro people in Mindanao and Sulu. A former Japanese Imperial Navy medic, Akira Makino, admitted to carrying out dissections on Moro civilians while they were still alive.[138][139][140][141]

Middle East


The Sabra and Shatila massacre was the slaughter of between 762 and 3,500 civilians, mostly Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites, by a Lebanese Christian militia in the Sabra neighborhood and the adjacent Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon from approximately 6:00 pm 16 September to 8:00 am 18 September 1982.[142]


In World War I, in Ottoman-ruled Syria the total number of civilian casualties was as many as 500,000. The civilian casualties of Greater Syria, including Akkar, were covered in a detailed article by Linda Schatkowski Schilcher.[143] Scholars acknowledge one particular reason for civilian deaths attributed to Germany (Ottoman ally in World War I), the callousness of German military officials in Syria, and systematic hoarding by the population at large.[143]


Myanmar has a Buddhist majority. The Muslim minority in Myanmar mostly consists of the Rohingya people and the descendants of Muslim immigrants from India (including what is now Bangladesh) and China (the ancestors of Chinese Muslims in Myanmar came from the Yunnan province), as well as descendants of earlier Arab and Persian settlers. Indian Muslims were brought to Burma by the British to aid them in clerical work and business. After independence, many Muslims retained their previous positions and achieved prominence in business and politics.

Buddhist persecution of Muslims arose from religious reasons, and occurred during the reign of King Bayinnaung, 1550–1589 AD. After conquering Bago in 1559, the Buddhist King prohibited the practice of halal, specifically, killing food animals in the name of Allah. He was religiously intolerant, forcing some of his subjects to listen to Buddhist sermons possibly converting by force. He also disallowed the Eid al-Adha, religious sacrifice of cattle, regarding killing animals in the name of religion as a cruel custom. Halal food was also forbidden by King Alaungpaya in the 18th century.

When General Ne Win swept to power on a wave of nationalism in 1962, the status of Muslims changed for the worse. Muslims were expelled from the army and were rapidly marginalized.[144] Many Rohingya Muslims fled Burma and many refugees inundated neighbouring Bangladesh including 200,000 in 1978 as a result of the King Dragon operation in Arakan[145] and 250,000 in 1991.[146]


The Philippines is predominantly a Christian society with a complicated history of relations between Islam and Christianity. Despite historic evidence of Islamization spreading throughout the islands in the 13th-16th centuries, the archipelago came under Spanish rule in the 16th century. The Spanish proselytized many natives, and labelled those who remained Muslims as Moro, a derogatory term recalling the Moors, an Islamic people of North Africa who occupied Spain for 800 years. Today, this term Moro is used to refer to the indigenous Muslim tribes and ethnic groups of the country. When the Spanish came to the Philippine islands, most of the natives in Luzon and Visayas were pagans with Muslim minorities, and while Spanish proselytized many natives, many Muslims in Luzon and Visayas were not exempted by the Spaniards from the Spanish Inquisition, wherein Muslims to become Catholics or die for their faith. Those who remained Muslims are only the natives of Mindanao and Sulu which the Spaniards did not invade or had control of only briefly and partially.

The Spanish–Moro Wars between Spanish colonial authorities and the indigenous Sultanates of the Moro peoples, (the Sultanate of Sulu, Confederation of sultanates in Lanao and Sultanate of Maguindanao) further escalated tensions between the Christian and Muslim groups of the country. The Moros fought in the Moro Rebellion against the Americans during which Americans massacred Moro women and children at the Moro Crater massacre, against the Japanese in World War II, and are waging an insurgency against the Philippines. The pro-Philippine government Ilaga militia, composed of Catholic and other Christian settlers on Moro land in Mindanao, were known for their atrocities and massacres against Moro civilians and their bloodiest attack happened in June 1971 when they slaughtered 65 Moro civilians at a Mosque during the Manili massacre. On September 24, 1974, in the Malisbong massacre the Armed Forces of the Philippines slaughtered about 1,500 Moro Muslim civilians who were praying at a Mosque in addition to mass raping Moro girls who had been taken aboard a boat.[147]

Polls have shown that some non-Muslim Filipinos hold negative views directed against the Moro people.[148][149][149][150][151][152][153]


Russian Empire

Qolsharif and his students defend their mosque during the Siege of Kazan.

The period from the conquest of Kazan in 1552 to the ascension of Catherine the Great in 1762, was marked by systematic repression of Muslims through policies of exclusion and discrimination as well as the destruction of Muslim culture by elimination of outward manifestations of Islam such as mosques. The Russians initially demonstrated a willingness in allowing Islam to flourish as Muslim clerics were invited into the various region to preach to the Muslims, particularly the Kazakhs whom the Russians viewed as "savages" and "ignorant" of morals and ethics.[154][155] However, Russian policy shifted toward weakening Islam by introducing pre-Islamic elements of collective consciousness.[156] Such attempts included methods of eulogizing pre-Islamic historical figures and imposing a sense of inferiority by sending Kazakhs to highly elite Russian military institutions.[156] In response, Kazakh religious leaders attempted to bring religious fervor by espousing pan-Turkism, though many were persecuted as a result.[157]

While total expulsion as in other Christian nations such as Spain, Portugal and Sicily was not feasible to achieve a homogenous Russian Orthodox population, other policies such as land grants and the promotion of migration by other Russian and non-Muslim populations into Muslim lands displaced many Muslims making them minorities in places such as some parts of the South Ural region to other parts such as the Ottoman Turkey, and almost annihilating the Circassians, Crimean Tatars, and various Muslims of the Caucasus. The Russian army rounded up people, driving Muslims from their villages to ports on the Black Sea, where they awaited ships provided by the neighboring Ottoman Empire. The explicit Russian goal was to expel the groups in question from their lands.[158] They were given a choice as to where to be resettled: in the Ottoman Empire or in Russia far from their old lands. Only a small percentage (the numbers are unknown) accepted resettlement within the Russian Empire. The trend of Russification has continued at different paces during the remaining Tsarist period and under the Soviet Union, so that today there are more Tatars living outside the Republic of Tatarstan than inside it.[159]

Alexander Suvorov announced the capture of Ismail in 1791 to the Tsarina Catherine in a doggerel couplet, after the assault had been pressed from house to house, room to room, and nearly every Muslim man, woman, and child in the city had been killed in three days of uncontrolled massacre, 40,000 Turks dead, a few hundred taken into captivity. For all his bluffness, Suvorov later told an English traveller that when the massacre was over he went back to his tent and wept.[57]


The Soviet Union was hostile to all forms of religion, which was "the opium of the masses" in accordance with Marxist ideology. Relative religious freedom existed for Muslims in the years following the revolution, but in the late 1920s the Soviet government took a strong anti-religious turn. Many mosques were closed or torn down.[160] During the period of Joseph Stalin's leadership, Crimean Tatar, Chechen, Ingush, Balkar, Karachay, and Meskhetian Turk Muslims were victims of mass deportation. However, the deportation was not religious persecution, it was officially based on alleged collaborationism[161] during the Nazi occupation of Crimea.[162] The deportation began on 17 May 1944 in all Crimean inhabited localities. More than 32,000 NKVD troops participated in this action. 193,865 Crimean Tatars were deported, 151,136 of them to Uzbek SSR, 8,597 to Mari ASSR, 4,286 to Kazakh SSR, the rest 29,846 to the various oblasts of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.

From May to November, 10,105 Crimean Tatars died of starvation in Uzbekistan (7% of deported to Uzbek SSR). Nearly 30,000 (20%) died in exile during the year and a half by the NKVD data and nearly 46% by the data of the Crimean Tatar activists. According to Soviet dissident information, many Crimean Tatars were made to work in the large-scale projects conducted by the Soviet Gulag system of slave labor camps.[163]


The 1921-1922 famine deaths of 2 million Muslim Tatars in Tatar ASSR and in the Volga-Ural region was catastrophic and halved the Volga Tatar population within the USSR. This famine is also known as "terror-famine" and "famine-genocide" in Tatarstan.[164] The Soviets settled ethnic Russians after the famine in Tatar ASSR and in Volga-Ural region causing the Tatar share of the population to decline to less than 50%. All-Russian Tatar Social Center (VTOTs) has asked the United Nations to condemn the 1921 Tatarstan famine as Genocide of Muslim Tatars.[165] The 1921–1922 famine in Tatarstan has been compared to Holodomor in Ukraine.[166]


The Vietnamese Emperor Minh Mạng unleashed persecution of Cham Muslims after he conquered the final remnants of Champa in 1832.[167][168] The Vietnamese coercively fed lizard and pig meat to Cham Muslims and cow meat to Cham Hindus against their will to punish them and assimilate them to Vietnamese culture.[169]

Current situation (1989 to present)

Persecution of Muslims in the West


On July 1, 2009, Marwa El-Sherbini was stabbed to death in a courtroom in Dresden, Germany. She had just given evidence against her attacker who had used insults against her because she wore an Islamic headscarf. El-Sherbini was called "Islamist", "terrorist" and (according to one report) "slut".[note 1]

The Bosphorus serial murders took place between 2000 and 2006. The police discovered a hit list of 88 people that included "two prominent members of the Bundestag and representatives of Turkish and Islamic groups".[170]

German officials recorded more than 70 attacks against mosques from 2012 to 2014.[171]


In the week after the Charlie Hebdo shooting, 54 anti-Muslim incidents were reported in France. These included 21 reports of shootings and grenade throwing at Islamic buildings (e.g. mosques) and 33 cases of threats and insults.[172][173][174][175][176][177][178] Three grenades were thrown at a mosque in Le Mans, west of Paris, and a bullet hole was found in its windows. A Muslim prayer hall in the Port-la-Nouvelle was also fired at. There was an explosion at a restaurant affiliated to a mosque in Villefranche-sur-Saône. No casualties were reported.[179][180]

Bosnian Genocide

The Bosnian Genocide refers to either genocide at Srebrenica and Žepa[181] committed by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995 or the ethnic cleansing campaign throughout areas controlled by the Army of the Republika Srpska[182] that took place during the 1992–1995 Bosnian War.[183]

The events in Srebrenica in 1995 included the killing of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys, as well as the mass expulsion of another 25,000–30,000 Bosniak civilians, in and around the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, committed by units of the Army of the Republika Srpska (VRS) under the command of General Ratko Mladić.[184][185]

The ethnic cleansing campaign that took place throughout areas controlled by the VRS targeted Bosnian Muslims. The ethnic cleansing campaign included unlawful confinement, murder, rape, sexual assault, torture, beating, robbery and inhumane treatment of civilians; the targeting of political leaders, intellectuals and professionals; the unlawful deportation and transfer of civilians; the unlawful shelling of civilians; the unlawful appropriation and plunder of real and personal property; the destruction of homes and businesses; and the destruction of places of worship.[186]

The Srebrenica massacre, also known as the Srebrenica genocide[187][188][189][190][191][192] (Bosnian: Genocid u Srebrenici), was the July 1995 killing of more than 8,000[193][194][195][196][197] Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), mainly men and boys, in and around the town of Srebrenica during the Bosnian War. The killing was perpetrated by units of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) under the command of General Ratko Mladić. The Secretary-General of the United Nations described the mass murder as the worst crime on European soil since the Second World War.[198][199] A paramilitary unit from Serbia known as the Scorpions, officially part of the Serbian Interior Ministry until 1991, participated in the massacre,[200][201] along with several hundred Russian and Greek volunteers.[202][203]

United States

In the aftermath of 9/11, hate crimes against people of Middle-Eastern descent in the country increased from 354 attacks in 2000 to 1,501 attacks in 2001.[204]

Zohreh Assemi, an Iranian American Muslim owner of a nail salon in Locust Valley, New York, was robbed, beaten, and called a "terrorist" in September 2007 in what authorities call a bias crime.[205] Assemi was kicked, sliced with a boxcutter, and had her hand smashed with a hammer. The perpetrators, who forcibly removed $2,000 from the salon and scrawled anti-Muslim slurs on the mirrors, also told Assemi to "get out of town" and that her kind were not "welcomed" in the area. The attack followed two weeks of phone calls in which she was called a "terrorist" and told to "get out of town," friends and family said.[205]

On August 25, 2010, a New York taxi driver was stabbed after a passenger asked if he was Muslim.[206]

December 27, 2012 in New York City 31-year-old Erika Menendez allegedly pushed an Indian immigrant and small businessman named Sunando Sen onto the subway tracks where he was struck and killed by a train. Menendez, who has a long history of mental illness[207][208] and violence,[209] told police: "I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims… Ever since 2001 when they put down the Twin Towers, I've been beating them up." She has been charged with 2nd degree murder as a hate crime.[210]

The ACLU keeps track of Nationwide Anti-Mosque Activity where they have noted at least 50 anti-mosque incidents in the previous 5 years.[211]

Persecution of Muslims in Asia


Main article: Islam in Azerbaijan

In Nardaran, a deadly incident broke out between Azerbaijan security forces and religious Shia residents in which two policemen and four suspected Shia Muslim militants were killed.[212][213][214][215][216][217][218][219][220][221]

As a result of this incident, the Azerbaijani parliament passed laws prohibiting people with religious education received abroad to implement Islamic rites and ceremonies in Azerbaijan, as well as to preach in mosques and occupy leading positions in the country; as well as prohibiting the display of religious paraphernalia, flags and slogans, except in places of worship, religious centers and offices.[222] Ashura festivities in public have also been banned.[223] The Azerbaijani government also passed a law to remove the citizenship of Azerbaijani citizens who fight abroad.[224]

The Azerbaijan authorities cracked down on observant Sunni Muslims.[225]


Sunni Islam of the Hanafi school has been officially recognized by the government since 2009.[226] Tajikistan considers itself a secular state with a Constitution providing for freedom of religion. The Government has declared two Islamic holidays, Id Al-Fitr and Idi Qurbon, as State holidays. According to a U.S. State Department release and Pew research group, the population of Tajikistan is 98% Muslim. Approximately 87%-95% of them are Sunni and roughly 3% are Shia and roughly 7% are non-denominational Muslims.[227][228] The remaining 2% of the population are followers of Russian Orthodoxy, a variety of Protestant denominations, Catholicism, Zoroastrianism and Buddhism.

A great majority of Muslims fast during Ramadan, although only about one third in the countryside and 10% in the cities observe daily prayer and dietary restrictions.

There is some reported concern among mainstream Muslim leaders that minority religious groups undermine national unity.[229] There is a concern for religious institutions becoming active in the political sphere. The Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP), a major combatant in the 1992–1997 Civil War and then-proponent of the creation of an Islamic state in Tajikistan, constitutes no more than 30% of the government by statute. Membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir, a party which today aims for a nonviolent overthrow of secular governments and the unification of Tajiks under one Islamic state, is illegal and members are subject to arrest and imprisonment.[230] Numbers of large mosques appropriate for Friday prayers are limited and some feel this is discriminatory.

By law, religious communities must register by the State Committee on Religious Affairs (SCRA) and with local authorities. Registration with the SCRA requires a charter, a list of 10 or more members, and evidence of local government approval prayer site location. Religious groups who do not have a physical structure are not allowed to gather publicly for prayer. Failure to register can result in large fines and closure of place of worship. There are reports that registration on the local level is sometimes difficult to obtain.[231] People under the age of 18 are also barred from public religious practice.[232]

The reason for having Tajikistan in this article is primarily because the government of the country itself, is - or is seen to be - the source of claimed persecution of Muslims. (As opposed to coming from outside forces or other religious groups.) This can make the reported issues open to bias by media and personal religious beliefs or preferences. In actual fact, the government - with the apparent approval of the people - is attempting to keep the government completely secular (full separation of Church and State) to avoid what they perceive as problems in other surrounding countries.[233]

Mosques are not permitted to allow women inside due to a fatwa issued in August 2004, by the Tajik Council of Ulema, or scholars - the country's highest Muslim body.[236] Part of the reasoning for this is that Tajikistan has 3,980 mosques, but very few are designed to allow men and women to worship separately, a practice Islam generally requires. The fatwa was not strictly enforced and more recently, it has been reported that the Ulema Council will relax the ban.[237]

Only state controlled religious education is approved for children and long beards are banned in Tajikistan.[238]

In Tajikistan, Mosques are banned from allowing Friday Prayers for children younger than 18 year old.[239][240][241][242][243][244][245][246][247][248][249][250][251][252][253][254][255][256]

From the beginning of 2011 1,500 Mosques were shut down by the Tajik government, in addition to banning the hijab for children, banning the use of loudspeakers for the call of prayer, forbidding mosques from allowing women to enter, and monitoring Imams and students learning an Islamic education abroad, having sermons in the Mosque approved by the government and limiting the Mosque sermons to 15 minutes.[257] Muslims experienced the most negative effects from the "Religion Law" enacted by the government of Tajikistan, curtailing sermons by Imams during weddings, making the "Cathedral mosques" the only legal place for sermons to be given by Imams with sermons not being allowed in five-fold mosques, the five-fold mosques are small mosques and serve a limited number of people while the medium and big mosques are categorized as Cathedral mosques, girls who wore the hijab have been expelled from schools and hijabs and beards are not permitted on passport photos.[258] Mosques have been demolished and shut down by the Tajikistan government on the justification that they were not registered and therefore not considered as mosques by the government.[259][260] Tajikistan has targeted religious groups like Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, Christians, and Muslims who try to evade control by the government, synagogue, churches, and Mosques have been shut down and destroyed, only a certain amount of mosques are allowed to operate and the state must approve all "religious activity", in which younger than 18 year old children are not allowed to join in.[261] Buildings for religious worhsip for Jehovah's Witnesses, Protestant Churches, the Jewish Synagogue, and Muslim mosques have been targeted, destroyed, and shut down and prayers are forbidden to take place in public halls, with severed restrictions placed on religion.[262] Churches, a synagogue, and mosques have been destroyed by the Tajikistan government.[263] Government approval is required for Tajiks seeking to engage in religious studies in foreign countries and religious activities of Muslims in particular are subjected to controls by the Tajikistan government.[264] State control has been implemented on Islamic madrasahs, Imams, and Mosques by Tajikistan.[265] A list of sermon "topics" for Imams has been created by the Tajikistan government.[266] Towns are only allowed to have a certain number of mosques and only religious buildings sanctioned by the government are allowed to host religious activities, schools have banned hijab, religious studies in private have been forbidden mosque religious services are not allowed to admit children and non registered mosques have been closed.[267][268][269] Religious matters are banned for children under 18 year old. Public buildings do not allow beards, schools ban hijabs, unregistered mosques are shut down, and sermons are subjected to government authority.[270] Only if "provided the child expresses a desire to learn" can a family teach religion to their own children, while the Tajik government banned all non-family private education.[271] Islam and Muslims have been subjected to controls by the Tajikistan government, the states decides what sermons the Imams give, the government discharges the salaries of Imams and there is only a single madrasah in Tajikistan.[272]

Jehovah's Witnesses have been declared illegal in Tajikistan.[273] Abundant Life Christian Centre, Ehyo Protestant Church, and Jehovah's witnesses have accused Tajikistan of lying about them not being declared illegal at a Warsaw OSCE conference for human rights.[274]

Among increasingly religious Tajiks, Islamic-Arabic names have become more popular over Tajik names.[275] However the government has considered the outlawing of Arabic-Islamic names for children.[276][277][278][279][280][281][282] Tajikistan President Rakhmon (Rahmon) has said that the Persian epic Shahnameh should be used as a source for names, with his proposed law hinting that Muslim names would be forbidden after his anti hijab and anti beard laws.[283]

The Tajik government has used the word "prostitute" to label hijab wearing women and enforced shaving of beards.[283] As well as that the black colored Islamic veil was attacked and criticized in public by Tajik President Emomali Rahmon.[284]

The Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan has been banned by the Tajik government.[285][286][287]

Tajikistan's restrictions on Islam has resulted in a drastic decrease of big beards and hijabs.[288] Tajikistan bans Salafism under the name "Wahhabi", which is applied to forms of Islam not permitted by the government.[289]

160 Islamic clothing stores were shut down and 13,000 men were forcibly shaved by the Tajik police and Arabic names were banned by the parliament of Tajikistan as part of a secularist campaign by President Emomali Rajmon.[290][291][292][293]

Arabic names were outlawed by the legislature of Tajikistan.[294]

In Uzbekistan and Tajikistan women wore veils which covered their entire face and body like the Paranja and faranji. The traditional veil in Central Asia worn before modern times was the faranji but it was banned by the Soviet Communists[295] but the Tajikistan President Emomali has misleadingly tried to claim that veils were not part of Tajik culture.[284]

After an Islamic Renaissance Party member was allowed to visit Iran by the Iranian government a diplomatic protest was made by Tajikistan.[296]


The city of Karamay has banned Islamic beards, headwear and clothing on buses.[297] China's far-western Xinjiang province have passed a law to prohibit residents from wearing burqas in public.[298] China has also banned Ramadan fasting for Communist party members in certain parts of Xinjiang.[299] Amnesty International has said Uyghurs face widespread discrimination in employment, housing and educational opportunities, as well as curtailed religious freedom and political marginalization.

Uncertainty of Motive

According to human rights organizations and western media Uyghurs face discrimination and religious persecution at the hands of the government authorities. In a 2013 news article, The New York Times reported, "Many Uighurs are also convinced that Beijing is seeking to wipe out their language and culture through assimilation and education policies that favor Mandarin over Uighur in schools and government jobs. ... Civil servants can be fired for joining Friday afternoon prayer services, and Uighur college students say they are often required to eat lunch in school cafeterias during the holy month of Ramadan, when observant Muslims fast."[300]

However, the suppression of the Uyghurs has more to do with the fact that they are separatist, rather than Muslim. China banned a book titled "Xing Fengsu" ("Sexual Customs") which insulted Islam and placed its authors under arrest in 1989 after protests in Lanzhou and Beijing by Chinese Hui Muslims, during which the Chinese police provided protection to the Hui Muslim protestors, and the Chinese government organized public burnings of the book.[122][123][124][125][126][127][128][129][130][131] The Chinese government assisted them and gave into their demands because Hui do not have a separatist movement, unlike the Uyghurs,[301] Hui Muslim protestors who violently rioted by vandalizing property during the protests against the book were let off by the Chinese government and went unpunished while Uyghur protestors were imprisoned.[132]

Different Muslim ethnic groups in different regions are treated differently by the Chinese government in regards to religious freedom. Religious freedom is present for Hui Muslims, who can practice their religion, build Mosques, and have their children attend Mosques, while more controls are placed specifically on Uyghurs in Xinjiang.[302]

Although religious education for children is officially forbidden by law in China, the Communist party allows Hui Muslims to violate this law and have their children educated in religion and attend Mosques while the law is enforced on Uyghurs. After secondary education is completed, China then allows Hui students who are willing to embark on religious studies under an Imam.[303] China does not enforce the law against children attending Mosques on non-Uyghurs in areas outside of Xinjiang.[304][305] Since the 1980s Islamic private schools (Sino-Arabic schools (中阿學校)) have been supported and permitted by the Chinese government among Muslim areas, only specifically excluding Xinjiang from allowing these schools because of separatist sentiment there.[306]

Hui Muslims who are employed by the state are allowed to fast during Ramadan unlike Uyghurs in the same positions, the amount of Hui going on Hajj is expanding, and Hui women are allowed to wear veils, while Uyghur women are discouraged from wearing them and Uyghurs find it difficult to get passports to go on Hajj.[307]

Hui religious schools are allowed a massive autonomous network of mosques and schools run by a Hui Sufi leader was formed with the approval of the Chinese government even as he admitted to attending an event where Bin Laden spoke.[308][309]

"The Diplomat" reported on the fact that while Uyghur's religious activitis are curtailed, Hui Muslims are granted widespread religious freedom and that therefore the policy of the Chinese government towards Uyghurs in Xinjiang is not directed against Islam, but rather aggressively stamping out the Uyghur separatist threat.[310]

Uyghur views vary by the oasis they live in. China has historically favored Turpan and Hami. Uyghurs in Turfan and Hami and their leaders like Emin Khoja allied with the Qing against Uyghurs in Altishahr. During the Qing dynasty, China enfeoffed the rulers of Turpan and Hami (Kumul) as autonomous princes, while the rest of the Uyghurs in Altishahr (the Tarim Basin) were ruled by Begs.[311] Uyghurs from Turpan and Hami were appointed by China as officials to rule over Uyghurs in the Tarim Basin. Turpan is more economically prosperous and views China more positively than the rebellious Kashgar, which is the most anti-China oasis. Uyghurs in Turpan are treated leniently and favourably by China with regards to religious policies, while Kashgar is subjected to controls by the government.[312][313] In Turpan and Hami, religion is viewed more positively by China than religion in Kashgar and Khotan in southern Xinjiang.[314] Both Uyghur and Han Communist officials in Turpan turn a blind eye to the law and allow religious Islamic education for Uyghur children.[315][316] Celebrating at religious functions and going on Hajj to Mecca is encouraged by the Chinese government, for Uyghur members of the Communist party. From 1979-1989, 350 mosques were built in Turpan.[317] Han, Hui, and the Chinese government are viewed much more positively by Uyghurs specifically in Turpan, with the government providing better economic, religious, and political treatment for them.[318]

"Protect religion, Kill the Han and destroy the Hui".(baohu zongjiao, sha Han mie Hui 保護宗教,殺漢滅回), is a Uyghur proverb.[319][320]


The Cham Muslims in Vietnam are only recognized as a minority, and not as an indigenous people by the Vietnamese government despite being indigenous to the region. Muslim Chams have experienced violent religious and ethnic persecution and restrictions on practicing their faith under the current Vietnamese government, with the Vietnamese state confisticating Cham property and forbidding Cham from observing their religious beliefs. In 2010 and 2013 several incidents occurred in Thành Tín and Phươc Nhơn villages where Cham were murdered by Vietnamese. In 2012, Vietnamese police in Chau Giang village stormed into a Cham Mosque, stole the electric generator, and also raped Cham girls.[321] Cham Muslims in the Mekong Delta have also been economically marginalized and pushed into poverty by Vietnamese policies, with ethnic Vietnamese Kinh settling on majority Cham land with state support, and religious practices of minorities have been targeted for elimination by the Vietnamese government.[322]

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has a Buddhist majority and significant Hindu Tamil minority. The rebels Tamil LTTE attacked Muslims during the Sri Lankan Civil War.

The militant Buddhist Bodu Bala Sena campaigned against Halal meat and attacked Mosques and Muslims.[323][324] The BBC reported that "Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority is being targeted by hardline Buddhists. ... There have also been assaults on churches and Christian pastors but it is the Muslims who are the most concerned."[325]


A widely publicised Burmese conflict was the 2012 Rakhine State riots, a series of conflicts that primarily involved the ethnic Rakhine Buddhist people and the Rohingya Muslim people in the northern Rakhine State—an estimated 90,000 people were displaced as a result of the riots.[326][327]


The 2002 Gujarat violence was a series of incidents starting with the Godhra train burning and the subsequent communal violence between Hindus and Muslims in the Indian state of Gujarat. On 27 February 2002, an allegedly Muslim mob burnt the Sabarmati Express train and 58 Hindus including 25 women and 15 children were burnt to death. Frontline claimed that the blame of train burning was put on Muslims,[328] while larger sections of media reported that it was Muslim mob which burnt the train.[329][330][331][332] Attacks against Muslims and general communal riots arose on a large scale across the state, in which 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were ultimately killed; 223 more people were reported missing.[333][334] 536 places of worship were damaged: 273 dargahs, 241 mosques and 19 temples.[335] Muslim-owned businesses suffered the bulk of the damage. 61,000 Muslims and 10,000 Hindus fled their homes. Preventive arrests of 17,947 Hindus and 3,616 Muslims were made. In total, 27,901 Hindus and 7,651 Muslims were arrested.[336][337][338]


When Hui started migrating into Lhasa in the 1990s, racist rumors circulated among Tibetans in Lhasa about the Hui, such as that they were cannibals or ate children.[339]:2, 5, 10, 17–20 On February 2003, Tibetans rioted against Hui, destroying Hui-owned shops and restaurants.[340] Local Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders led a regional boycott movement that encouraged Tibetans to boycott Hui-owned shops, spreading the racist myth that Hui put the ashes of cremated imams in the cooking water they used to serve Tibetans food, in order to convert Tibetans to Islam.[339]

In Tibet, the majority of Muslims are Hui people. Hatred between Tibeans and Muslims stems from events during the Muslim warlord Ma Bufang's rule in Qinghai such as Ngolok rebellions (1917–49) and the Sino-Tibetan War, but in 1949 the Communists put an end to the violence between Tibetans and Muslims, however, new Tibetan-Muslim violence broke out after China engaged in liberalization. Riots broke out between Muslims and Tibetans over incidents such as bones in soups and prices of balloons, and Tibetans accused Muslims of being cannibals who cooked humans in their soup and of contaminating food with urine. Tibetans attacked Muslim restaurants. Fires set by Tibetans which burned the apartments and shops of Muslims resulted in Muslim families being killed and wounded in the 2008 mid-March riots. Due to Tibetan violence against Muslims, the traditional Islamic white caps have not been worn by many Muslims. Scarfs were removed and replaced with hairnets by Muslim women in order to hide. Muslims prayed in secret at home when in August 2008 the Tibetans burned the Mosque. Incidents such as these which make Tibetans look bad on the international stage are covered up by the Tibetan exile community. The repression of Tibetan separatism by the Chinese government is supported by Hui Muslims.[341] In addition, Chinese-speaking Hui have problems with Tibetan Hui (the Tibetan speaking Kache minority of Muslims).[342]

On October 8, 2012, a mob of about 200 Tibetan monks beat a dozen Dungans (Hui Muslims) in Luqu County, Gansu province, in retaliation for the Chinese Muslim community's application to build a mosque in the county.[343]

The main Mosque in Lhasa was burned down by Tibetans and Chinese Hui Muslims were violently assaulted by Tibetan rioters in the 2008 Tibetan unrest.[344] Tibetan exiles and foreign scholars like ignore and do not talk about sectarian violence between Tibetan Buddhists and Muslims.[339] The majority of Tibetans viewed the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11 positively and it had the effect of galvanizing anti-Muslim attitudes among Tibetans and resulted in an anti-Muslim boycott against Muslim owned businesses.[339]:17 Tibetan Buddhists propagate a false libel that Muslims cremate their Imams and use the ashes to convert Tibetans to Islam by making Tibetans inhale the ashes, even though the Tibetans seem to be aware that Muslims practice burial and not cremation since they frequently clash against proposed Muslim cemeteries in their area.[339]:19

Since the Chinese government supports and backs up the Hui Muslims, the Tibetans deliberately attack the Hui Muslims as a way to demonstrate anti-government sentiment and because they have a background of sectarian violence against each other since Ma Bufang's rule due to their separate religions and ethnicity and Tibetans resent Hui economic domination.[345]

Persecution of Muslims in Africa

Central African Republic

During the internal armed conflict in the Central African Republic in 2013, anti-balaka militiamen were targeting Bangui's Muslim neighborhoods[346] and Muslim ethnic groups such as the Fulas.[347]

Early 2014 marked a turning point; hardened by war and massacres, the anti-balaka committed multiple atrocities.[348] In 2014, Amnesty International reported several massacres committed by anti-balaka against Muslim civilians, forcing thousands of Muslims to flee the country.[349][350]

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Religious persecution.

For persecution of Muslims by other Muslim groups, see: Shia–Sunni relations.


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