CAIR calls on Hilton hotels to drop Xinjiang project

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is urging Hilton hotels to drop plans to build a hotel on a site where a mosque once stood. 

Muslim ethnic groups in China's Xinjiang region are being forced to abandon their religious traditions, cultural practices and local languages, according to Amnesty International [File: Michael Martina/Reuters]

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is urging Hilton Worldwide Holdings to drop plans to build a hotel in China’s Xinjiang region on the site where Chinese officials bulldozed and desecrated a mosque.

“The notion that a corporation would do business in the same location of an ongoing genocide is unbelievable,” CAIR’s National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell told Al Jazeera.

The United Nations and the administration of United States President Joe Biden have accused China of committing genocide against Muslim Uighurs.

A recent Amnesty International report called the situation on the ground in Xinjiang a “dystopian hellscape”, detailing how minority groups have been forced to abandon their religious traditions, language and culture.

“We say ‘never again’ but we never actually mean it. Hilton can either build a hotel and be complicit in genocide, or it can cancel the hotel and help stop a genocide,” Mitchell said.

China is planning to build a new commercial centre that includes a Hilton hotel on a plot of land where a mosque once stood, British newspaper The Telegraph reported on Sunday.

The Virginia-based Hilton Worldwide Holdings did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.

In its report entitled “‘Like We Were Enemies in a War’: China’s Mass Internment, Torture, and Persecution of Muslims in Xinjiang”, Amnesty International detailed the human rights abuses committed against Uighurs.

Amnesty found that hundreds of thousands of Muslim men and women have been sent to prisons or internment camps where they have been subjected to “physical and psychological torture” and that China has subjected Muslims to systemised mass surveillance to make them perhaps “the most closely surveilled population in the world”.

Muslim ethnic groups are forced to abandon their religious traditions, cultural practices and local languages, according to Amnesty International, which also shared the testimony of 50 former camp detainees.

“The Chinese authorities have created a dystopian hellscape on a staggering scale in Xinjiang. Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities face crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations,” Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said in a statement.

China has denied any mistreatment of its Muslim minority.

CAIR, which is the US’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation, has also lauded Biden’s tougher stance on human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region.

In April, Biden’s secretary of state, Antony Blinken, condemned China for acts of genocide against Muslim Uighurs and its human rights violations. He also urged US corporations to refuse to do business in the region.

“Hilton is based in the United States but seems to be ignoring the US government’s formal recognition of China committing genocide against Uighur Muslims and other Turkic minorities,” Robert S McCaw, CAIR’s director of government affairs, told Al Jazeera.

The Biden administration also raised the issue of human rights in China during last week’s Group of Seven (G7) talks with other world leaders. Mitchell said that businesses also have an important role to play in taking a stand.

“China is such a superpower – and no one is going to go to war over human rights,” Mitchell said. “The only people who can do something about this are the United States and major corporations. Corporations have a major role to play in stopping this genocide.”

Source: Al Jazeera

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