Five Questions on China’s Genocide of Uyghur Muslims

April 11, 2023

Nury Turkel is a Uyghur Muslim attorney who currently serves as Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) after being appointed by U.S. Congressional House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in May 2020. He has testified before the US Congress, speaking about Uyghur Muslim internment camps, and advocating a legislative response to China’s atrocities. His policy recommendations have been incorporated into US law and pending bills relating to Uyghurs and China.

In Episode 4 of “Unpacking Islamophobia,” our host Arsalan Iftikhar sits down with Nury Turkel to discuss the China’s ongoing genocide targeting Uyghur and Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang, which includes the internment of an estimated 1-3 million Uyghur Muslims in a network of camps across the region. Turkel recounts his own personal story of being born in a Chinese re-education camp during the height of the cultural revolution, and how he has been unable to see his family for decades due to his advocacy work. In this episode, Turkel also discusses how the international community should respond to China’s ongoing repression targeting Uyghur Muslims.




Arsalan Iftikhar is Senior Researcher for the Bridge Initiative at the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University. He is a prominent human rights lawyer, an internationally recognized researcher on the topic of Islamophobia, and a global media commentator. He is the author of several books including FEAR OF A MUSLIM PLANET: Global Islamophobia in the New World Order and Scapegoats: How Islamophobia Helps Our Enemies and Threatens Our Freedoms which President Jimmy Carter called “an important book that shows Islamophobia must be addressed urgently”. Throughout his career, Arsalan has been a regular on-air commentator for National Public Radio (NPR) and his interviews have appeared on prominent global media outlets like CNN, Al-Jazeera English, BBC World News, The EconomistNew York TimesRolling Stone, NBC News “Meet The Press” & many more. A native of Chicago, Arsalan was awarded the 2013 Distinguished Young Alumni Award from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis; where he received both his undergraduate and law degrees.

Nury Turkel is a Uyghur Muslim lawyer who was born in a re-education camp at the height of China’s tumultuous Cultural Revolution and spent the first several months of his life in detention with his mother. He came to the United States in 1995 as a student and was granted asylum in 1998. In May 2020, Mr. Turkel was appointed by Congress as a Commissioner to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). He has testified before Congress, including most recently before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China in October 2019, speaking about Uyghur internment camps, and advocating a legislative response to China’s atrocities. Many of his recommendations have been incorporated into laws and pending bills relating to China, including the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 (Public Law 116-145). In addition to his policy work in the US, Mr. Turkel has advised government officials in the European Union and the Australian Parliament. Mr. Turkel currently serves as the chairman of the board for the Uyghur Human Rights Project, which he co-founded in 2003, and has also served as the president of the Uyghur American Association. Mr. Turkel is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the book No Escape: The True Story of China’s Genocide of the Uyghurs.