Every week, Orthodox man protests China's detention of Muslims, moved by 'similarities to the Final Solution'

'It’s raining, and he comes out. He has a family, a business — he leaves everything and he’s stopped here doing this. He is a friend for the Muslim community'


An Orthodox man who has launched a protest campaign against the Chinese Government’s alleged detention of Uyghur Muslims has said he is motivated by “similarities to the Final Solution”.

Andrew, who gave only his first name for fear of repercussions for his business, has held twice-weekly protests outside the cultural section of the Chinese Embassy, in Hampstead, North West London, since early March.

Each Tuesday demonstrations take place between 6pm and 7pm.

The aim of the protest, he said, scheduled during the evening rush hour, is to attract the attention of motorists with placards reading “3 million Muslims in Chinese Concentration Camps”.

The Uyghurs are a Turkic Muslim group originating from central Asia, with the largest population of Uyghurs found in the Xinjiang region, in north-western China.

In recent years, the Chinese government has faced allegations that Uyghurs have been arbitrarily arrested and detained, with an estimated one million kept in “vocational training centres”, according to the Conversation, a non-profit online academic journal.

According to reports, there is growing evidence of human-rights abuses in the purpose-built detention centres, which resemble high-security prisons. Satellite images taken from space appear to confirm their existence.

Speaking to the JC outside the Chinese Embassy building, Andrew made the distinction between the Chinese detention centres and Nazi “extermination camps” but said that “the Final Solution only happened after the world did nothing for a number of years”.

He said: “There are approximately three million people locked up in concentration camps in China. I don’t see, on that scale, how I could sit still and do nothing. My mother taught me that the world kept quiet when our forebears, 80 years ago, were in concentration camps, and that was wrong. I can’t see something that’s wrong and keep quiet.”

During Tuesday’s demonstration, a number of motorists stopped to speak with Andrew, while others beeped their horns in support.

A minority, he said, disapproved of the campaign — some uttering Islamophobic tropes regarding “child grooming”. One person had previously opined that Muslims should be “strung up”.

Ahmed Adnan, a 47-year-old Uber driver from Harrow, North-West London, was driving to pick up a client when he noticed the protest, cancelling the trip to thank Andrew and a fellow demonstrator who had recently arrived, who gave his name as Baruch Solomon.

He hailed Andrew and Mr Solomon as “friends for the Muslim community”.

Mr Adnan, originally from Iraq, said: “You see, it’s raining, and he comes out. He has a family, a business — he leaves everything and he’s stopped here doing this. He is a friend for the Muslim community.

“I am very happy. I am very happy — it’s amazing. I don’t know what to say. Humans are humans. And you see it here — he is Jewish. I want to tell Arabic people: these are the Jewish people.

“This is important — very important.”

Mr Solomon, a 55-year-old non-observant Jew from East Dulwich, in South London, added: “I want to see more people from the community saying that we cannot be bystanders… people were bystanders when we were sent to concentration camps.”

The Chinese Embassy in London said claims of surveillance, arbitrary arrest and detention of Uyghur Muslims were “completely groundless and does not tally with fact”.

A spokesman for the Embassy instead claimed there were “counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation measures” in place against the people of Xinjiang, in response to local “extremist and separatist forces”.

He also said the measures were “lawful and effective”, saying: “The rights of the students in the vocational education and training centres are protected by law…

"Thanks to such policies, Xinjiang and other ethnic minority areas in China have achieved rapid development in recent years, and local people of all ethnic groups are living and working in harmony and enjoying stability.”

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