Monday, March 20, 2006

A poor and pious Muslim enclave deep in China



'The most recent census found 513,000 Dongxiang people in China, and an overwhelming majority live in and around Dongxiang County. Of the 25 townships in the county, 19 do not have a single Chinese person. Most people do not speak Chinese, and some, like Mr. Tie, have only a vague notion of China, despite living in the middle of it. The geographic isolation has helped preserve an Islamic culture, as well as an ancient language, but it has also separated the Dongxiang people from the prosperity lifting other parts of China. The Dongxiang, one of China's 56 officially recognized ethnic minorities, are now among China's poorest and most illiterate people...' More

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