China’s continued crackdown against the country’s Uyghur Muslim ethnic minority in the Xinjiang Province in western China shows no signs of abating. Since spring 2017, Chinese authorities have increased their suppression efforts against Islam, demolishing innumerable mosques and sending Muslims to re-education camps.
Recently, a Bitter Winter reporter visited the sites of six demolished mosques in the city of Kumul, discovering that while some remnants could still be found at one of the sites, the other five had already been leveled, disappearing without a trace.
A local resident who lives near the site of one of the demolished mosques commented, “The authorities destroying mosques and restricting or prohibiting Uyghurs from gathering for prayer service infringe on their freedom of religion. There are many Uyghurs who call Xinjiang their home, and nearly every group and every village have their own mosque. Right now, in Xinjiang, the number of mosques has already decreased by more than a half, and in the future, there may be no mosques left at all.”
People in Kumul have revealed that many mosques had been demolished in places such as Sibao of the Yizhou district in the city. Was it not for the locals, the outsiders would not even know that there have ever been mosques on those sites.
During the reporter’s visit, one resident gave an account of the overnight disappearance of a mosque near her house. “In November of 2017, at around 8 p.m., I saw the mosque for the last time, because, the next day at 9 a.m., when I walked by, the mosque had already been leveled. My house is only about 100 meters from the mosque, but I didn’t even hear anything that night. I don’t even know what time they tore it down.”
Commenting on the reason for the demolition of the mosque, an elderly man, over 70-years-old, said, “There’s nothing we can do; the Communist Party said the mosque was too difficult to manage, so they just tore it down.”
Uyghurs are a Turkic Muslim minority primarily located in the Xinjiang Province in western China. Since the arrival of a new regional party secretary from Tibet in 2016, they have been facing increasingly constraining measures, reports TomoNews.
Authorities can arbitrarily send people to detention camps considered suspicious, without charge or trial. Displaying religious signs, having relatives abroad, or even speaking Chinese poorly have proved to be enough to set off alarm bells.
No official figures exist, but a recent report by the Jamestown foundation estimates that more than 100,000 people are currently being held indefinitely. This goes alongside a widely-reported mass surveillance program.
Chinese authorities claim that the crackdown is only directed against Islamic terrorism and separatism, reported state-run newspaper China Daily. However, repeated human rights violations have been reported by various NGOs.
Following several terrorist attacks by Uighur Muslims that killed hundreds of Chinese people, the government keeps imposing more and more restrictions on its Uighurs.
No Beards. No Veils. No Children in Mosques. China says Islamic separatists in Xinjiang are the greatest threat to national security. The far western region is home to a community of some 10 million Uighur Muslims.
China bans fasting for Muslim students and public servants during Ramadan.
China bans Muslim students from attending religious classes.
China’s ultimate goal is to rid the country of Islam.
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