GOP senator accuses China of persecuting Muslims despite backing Trump's Muslim ban


Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn criticized China for 'religious persecution' and 'covering up the mass violation of basic human rights.'

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) accused China of "mass violation of basic human rights" for its treatment of Uighurs and other Muslim groups on Thursday.

Blackburn has notably been supportive of the Trump administration's own attempts at banning Muslims from entering the United States in the past.

"I think y'all are confused," Blackburn wrote in a tweet, scolding the Chinese Embassy. "[W]e’re exposing the truth, you’re covering up the mass violation of basic human rights and religious persecution."

Blackburn was responding to an online spat between the embassy and the Trump administration. Last week, the State Department posted a video critical of "China's campaign of repression against Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups" in the Xinjiang region and accused the country of making Muslim Uighurs disappear under the guise of "cleanings of extremism."

An estimated 1.8 million Muslims have been detained in internment camps by authorities in the supposedly autonomous region of China.

On Tuesday, China's embassy in the United States criticized the video for purportedly "spreading lies."

"Uyghurs and other minorities in [Xinjiang] enjoy freedom of religion, practice cultural traditions and use their own ethnic languages. There are 24,000 mosques in Xinjiang, one for every 400 or so local Muslims, more than many Muslim countries," the embassy claimed.

Despite her criticism on Tuesday, however, Blackburn has shown less concern about the human rights and religious liberties of Muslims in the United States.

In December 2016, then-candidate Trump announced that he wanted "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."

Though Trump never proposed any process to make such a determination, Blackburn repeatedly praised Trump's idea of a temporary pause, saying, "The majority agrees that if we have to call a timeout while we get that in place, that it’s common sense and we ought to do that. That’s what I think we should do."

When Trump ordered a halt to immigration from several Muslim nations in 2017, Blackburn backed the move and even ran campaign ads in 2018 attacking her Democratic opponent for opposing the "Trump immigration ban."

Blackburn has also fought against teaching about Islam in public schools, claiming it was "indoctrination," and was listed twice as a speaker for an anti-Muslim extremist group (a spokesperson claimed she did not actually appear at one of those).

Blackburn's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the disparity in her statements then and now.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.