Yinchuan, China, Aug 10, 2018 / 15:01 pm
Officials in an autonomous region of northwest mainland China intended to demolish a mosque on Friday, but were met by hundreds of protesters. The move comes amid a nation-wide effort to clamp down on free religious expression.
Due to the protests, the local government has agreed not to demolish the mosque, but does insist on remodelling it in a more Chinese, and less Arabic, style, according to Nectar Gan of the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong daily.
Officials had said Aug. 3 that the mosque would be demolished, on the grounds that it has not been granted the proper planning and construction permits. Protesters gathered in the mosque Aug. 9-10 to prevent its destruction.
Construction of the mosque had taken two years, and was not stopped by government officials.
The Weizhou Grand Mosque is located in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, more than 100 miles south of Yinchuan. Ningxia is a region set up for the Hui people, a Muslim ethnoreligious group.
The US Commission on International Religion wrote in its 2018 report that last year China “advanced its so-called 'sinicization' of religion, a far-reaching strategy to control, govern, and manipulate all aspects of faith into a socialist mold infused with 'Chinese characteristics.'”
Christians, Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and Falun Gong practitioners have all been affected.
Earlier this year, widespread rumors suggested that the Vatican and the Chinese government were on the verge of regularizing the status of the Church in China and ending the split between the state-sponsored Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, whose leaders include illicitly-consecrated bishops, and the underground Church.