The Chinese government forced detained Uighur Muslims to eat pork meat, which is prohibited in Islam, Al Jazeera reported on Thursday quoting a former detainee. The detainees were forced to eat pork specifically on Fridays — a sacred day of worship in Islam.
Sayragul Sautbay, a former detainee and a medical doctor, detailed the ordeal Uighurs and other Muslim minorities had to face in detention camps in the country's Xinjiang region, which is dominated by the ethnic Uighur population. She alleged the detainees were subjected to forced sterilization, made to witness beatings and were sexually abused.
"Every Friday, we were forced to eat pork meat," Sautbay told Al Jazeera. "They have intentionally chosen a day that is holy for the Muslims. And if you reject it, you would get a harsh punishment."
Sautbay, who now lives in Sweden, explained that the Chinese government did so to cause shame and guilt on the detained Muslim. She stressed that it was "difficult to explain in words" the emotions she had every time consumed pork.
"I was feeling like I was a different person. All around me got dark. It was really difficult to accept," Sautbay said.
Uighur Muslims in China have faced decades-long persecution at the hands of the Chinese government, who forcibly detained them in concentration and labor camps. The Xinjiang region that is home to the ethnic minorities has recently witnessed the flourish of pig farming.
Last month, it was reported that China detained more than 600 Muslim religious clerics under a campaign of "extralegal incarceration." The detained Muslim minorities have been forced to undergo a cultural transformation.
With the arrest of the religious clerics, Uighurs said that there was "no possibility" to hold a funeral in case any Muslim died in the region.
"They told me that after those imams were arrested, Uighurs became afraid ... of dying because there is no imam to [oversee their] funeral," one activist reportedly. "They are afraid of dying because the mosques are demolished, and the imams are arrested, and there is no possibility to hold a funeral, to hold the ceremony. It's very tragic."