‘Nobody wants this job now’: the gentle leaders of China’s Uighur exiles – in pictures

‘Nobody wants this job now’: the gentle leaders of China’s Uighur exiles – in pictures

The Guardian

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Fleeing to Kyrgyzstan in the 1960s, communities established mosques and villages but the local leaders, or dzhigit-beshchis, are a dying breed

Dzhigit-beshchi is the name Uighur people in Kyrgyzstan give to the leader they elect for their mahallah – or community. Usually it’s a respected person, mostly an elderly man.

Pushed out of China during the repressions of the 1960s, tens of thousands of Uighurs went to the former Soviet Union when these ageing leaders were just young men. Sticking closely to relatives and acquaintances who had come to Soviet cities and villages in previous waves, they built mosques and mahallahs, each with its own dzhigit-beshchi.

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