Uyghur activist Abd Al-Ahad Abd Al-Rahman said that a recent crackdown of Egyptian authorities on Uyghur students at Al-Azhar University, detaining and deporting them, was a “disgrace” and was due to the instability in Egypt following the coup and the rise of Al-Sisi to power. According to Abd Al-Rahman, only five or six hundred remain in Egypt out of some 4,000 Uyghur students, who in the past had received a warm welcome at Al-Azhar. Speaking on July 6 on Mekameleen TV, an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood TV channel based in Turkey, Abd Al-Rahman called upon the Sheikh of Al-Azhar and upon the Egyptian government “to pay no heed to the requests of these atheist Communists” and not to deport the Uyghur students back home, where they would be “barbarically tortured and oppressed.”
Abd Al-Ahad Abd Al-Rahman: "I'd like to correct the information that was given in the introduction, according to which there are close to 10 million Turkestanis. This is not true. This is the figure according to the claims of the Chinese authorities, but the occupier always plays down the number of indigenous people. There are, in fact, close to 40 million Turkestanis.
"When the Chinese authorities began the occupation of East Turkestan, the first thing they did was to launch an onslaught against Islam and the Muslims, and to obliterate the Islamic identity, as it is this identity that preserves the Muslims, and preserves their lands and their connection to Islam. [Islamic identity] distinguishes them from the Chinese. The Chinese authorities fear that the Turkestanis will secede, and so they barbarically torture and oppress them. Some 4,000 Turkestani students have managed to reach Egypt in various ways. Their story is different from that of students from other countries, who are sent here by their governments. The Turkestanis pay very high sums of money for their passports and come [to Egypt] as tourists, in order to study at Al-Azhar. In East Turkestan, they are prohibited from religious studies.
"We received a warm welcome at Al-Azhar. They gave us accommodation and other things. This was in the days of the late [Sheikh of Al-Azhar] Ali Gad Al-Haq. I came to Egypt in 1986, and there was already a group here, which arrived in 1984."
Interviewer: "In the days of Sheikh Ali Gad Al-Haq?"
Abd Al-Ahad Abd Al-Rahman: "That's right. From then on, Turkestani students began to come [to Egypt]. When they saw how warmly they were welcomed at Al-Azhar, they began to come in masses. Three months ago, there were at least 3,000 [Turkestani] students here. But due to pressure exerted by the Chinese [authorities], most of them have left and only 500 or 600 students remain. As my colleague pointed out, this is because of the instability in Egypt, the coup that took place, and the rise of Al-Sisi to power. Al-Sisi did a 'favor' [to the Chinese authorities], and we know what happened in Al-Azhar."
Interviewer: "Were you harmed by the coup?"
Abd Al-Ahad Abd Al-Rahman: "No, but we believe that this is one of its results. If the [Egyptian] government and state were strong, they would not have acquiesced to the request of the Chinese authorities, but they did so because the country is unstable and they need the Chinese.
"This is a disgrace for Al-Azhar! We call upon the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, the professors and teachers of Al-Azhar, and the Egyptian government to cease these actions, and to pay no heed to the requests of these atheist Communists, the enemies of the Muslims."