China to Bulldoze Old Kashgar, A Major Center of Islamic & Uighur Culture


kashgarmapThe Chinese authorities are demolishing ancient Kashgar (wiki) in far western China. Once an important stop on the Silk Road, Kashgar is a historic center of Islamic & Uighur Culture in China (over 77 percent of Kashgar city’s 325,000 citizens are Uighur Muslims).

The New York Times reports on this devastating blow to the Uighur people:

Nine hundred families already have been moved from Kashgar’s Old City, “the best-preserved example of a traditional Islamic city to be found anywhere in central Asia,” as the architect and historian George Michell wrote in the 2008 book “Kashgar: Oasis City on China’s Old Silk Road.”

Over the next few years, city officials say, they will demolish at least 85 percent of this warren of picturesque, if run-down homes and shops. Many of its 13,000 families, Muslims from a Turkic ethnic group called the Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gurs), will be moved.

In its place will rise a new Old City, a mix of midrise apartments, plazas, alleys widened into avenues and reproductions of ancient Islamic architecture “to preserve the Uighur culture,” Kashgar’s vice mayor, Xu Jianrong, said in a phone interview. (source)


Of course, the idea that this architectural destruction will “preserve” Uighur culture is ridiculous:

“From a cultural and historical perspective, this plan of theirs is stupid,” said Wu Lili, the managing director of the Beijing Cultural Protection Center, a nongovernmental group devoted to historic preservation. “From the perspective of the locals, it’s cruel.”

Other resources:


All photos by Shiho Fukada for The New York Times (via the wonderful Istanbul-based blog, Kamil Pasha)

7 responses to “China to Bulldoze Old Kashgar, A Major Center of Islamic & Uighur Culture”

  1. libhomo Avatar

    This kind of thing is being done all over China.

  2. hv Avatar

    It’s soo sad.

  3. Elizabeth Avatar

    I am glad you posted this and are raising awareness of a humanitarian crisis. The information I have, which is based on Chinese and Uighur sources, is that there are a great many more than 13,000 families being displaced. I am not in Kashgar and do not have first-hand data, but evidently there are 220,000 people, or approximately 45,000 families, affected. I welcome you to get in touch with us, as we are forming an international team and hopefully, we can make a difference.

  4. Ty Ali Avatar
    Ty Ali

    I felt the hurt and frustration of these people. Hatred and ignorance has many faces.

  5. […] Culture in China (over 77 percent of Kashgar city’s 325,000 citizens are Uighur Muslims). [ read more on Hrag Vartanian blog […]

  6. Engineer Muhammad Irfan Avatar
    Engineer Muhammad Irfan

    Assalamu Alakum

    All my Moslim brother and sister in islam
    I Know Kashgar is the 99 % Moslim Population area
    and we must protect against the demolation of this Islamic and historical city

    any brother and sister in islam want to talk or communicate with please feel free to contact me via my direst email address at or or

    Thanks and Fi Amman Allah

    Engr. Muhammad Irfan

    1. hv Avatar

      I prefer not to think of this a religious issue but an issue of cultural preservation and world heritage.

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