SHAFAQNA – The World’s Muslim community is largely unaware of their brotherhood in China, but now a photo exhibition in Islamabad is giving Pakistani Muslims an opportunity to learn about a shared culture. The photos were taken by a father-son team of Chinese Muslems and marks the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan.
Titled “Chinese Muslims on the Silk Road,” the exhibition at the Pak-China Friendship Center comprises 70 images taken by Bai Xueyi and his son Bai Tao, members of the Hui Muslim ethnic minority.
Over the past two decades, the two have traveled along the Ancient Silk Road documenting the culture, practices, and livelihoods of Chinese Muslims.
“When I was working in foreign countries, the Muslim people there barely knew about Chinese Muslims, whether the religion or their situation. Many even asked me, ‘Are there Muslims in China?’ This made me realize that I must start taking these photos to let the outside world learn about what is going on with Chinese Muslims as well as Chinese-government policies on religion,” said Bai Xueyi, photographer.
China has some 30 million Muslims, mostly in northwestern regions and provinces.
Bai Xueyi says he has witnessed a lot of improvements in their lives.
“After the economic reform and opening-up, Chinese Muslims got their chance. Since they are good at doing business, Muslims of the Hui minority group and other ethnic minorities have achieved much better livings,” he said.
In Pakistan, more than 95 percent of the population practice Islam, and visitors to this exhibition appreciate the sense of brotherhood.
“This is the first time I am seeing the photo exhibition of the lives of Chinese Muslims in China. Before this photo exhibition, I knew very little about the lives of Chinese Muslims. Now, seeing these photographs, I have appreciated the many festivals, the many cultural traditions, the many dress codes that are common among Muslims across the world, and I see them among the Muslim people of China, and it has been very educative,” said Syed Qutub, show visitor.
The exhibition also marks this 65th-anniversary year of diplomatic ties between China and Pakistan.