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Uygurs, Han eat side by side
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The chubby restaurant cashier looked over the steamy dining hall and looked satisfied: Half of the tables in his Muslim restaurant were occupied by Han and Uygur customers hours after lunchtime.

"Look around and you see that nothing can be easily affected despite all that fuss," said the 46-year-old cashier of the Bugda Muslim Restaurant in western Beijing.

There are a few thousand immigrants from Xinjiang in large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. Their lives seemed undisturbed by the deadly riot back home yesterday, but they voiced worries about what might come next as tensions appeared to be rising.

Aimar Wayiti was among the dozen Uygurs who opened the exotic Xinjiang restaurant in west Beijing almost a decade ago. The heavily bearded Uygur added that it can be difficult to make ends meet.

"It's not easy, but whether it's in Urumqi or Beijing, people have to make a living and enjoy a peaceful life," said Wayiti, waving a paper fan to cool himself behind the counter.

Maimait, a Uygur customer at the restaurant with his girlfriend, said both Han and Uygur people would like their lives to be "just as normal as before."

At Kashgar Cuisine in central Beijing, a Han woman surnamed Liu was chewing a large plate of Xinjiang-style noodles yesterday afternoon.

"I am a Beijing resident, but I also enjoy talking to people from Xinjiang. Nobody should mess up normal people's lives with political intentions," she said.

The campus of the Minzu University of China, the elite institute for ethnic studies, was more tightly controlled. Since yesterday evening, guards have been checking people's ID cards before letting them enter the school.

But Uygur students yesterday walked on the campus as usual and those who completed their final exams on the weekend played soccer together with students of other ethnic groups.

Suritan Bairiti, a freshman majoring in Uygur studies and international trade, said his 20 or so classmates from Xinjiang were "not affected by the incident".

"We did not feel we are under a cloud. Today, the school showed us the video clips from CCTV before we continued to practice marching for the National Day parade," said the 19-year-old in his dormitory.

But another Uygur yesterday voiced concerns over security in the coming days.

Ajimu, a Uygur living in Shanghai who buys fabrics in Changshu of Jiangsu province and exports them to Russia, said although his business has not been affected as yet, he is worried about his family back in Xinjiang.

(China Daily July 8, 2009)

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