This article examines the policies the Chinese state has taken towards the Uyghur Muslim community in Xinjiang since the Cultural Revolution and tries to analyse to what extent have these changed with time. The article argues that the Uyghur community has been seen as a threat to the stability of the state, which is why harsh measures have been directed towards this ethnic group. The party has tried to maintain control over these groups by force by attempting to confine all forms of religious activity and by suppressing any independent body. This is because religion generally and Islam in particular (which is practised by most Uyghurs) are not viewed favourably by Chinese officials, since religious ideology did not sit comfortably with what the state considered to be nationalist patriotic values. However, recent democratising tendencies, which have implications for all religious groups, also need to be taken into consideration before making an assessment of the situation. Recent events have shown us that Chinese state policies do not necessarily move in a straight line.