China closing down hundreds of mosques
Beijing, Nov 24: Chinese authorities have closed or modified hundreds of mosques in the country's Ningxia and Gansu regions. These two regions have the largest Muslim population after Xinjiang. This information was given in the report published by the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday.
According to HRW, the Chinese government is closing mosques as part of the Chineseization of the country's minorities. The Chinese government has significantly reduced the number of mosques in Ningxia Autonomous Region and Gansu Province, HRW researchers said.
Since 2016, the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has maintained a strict crackdown on religious and ethnic minorities in China. At that time, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the sinicization of religion. Since then, the number of mosques has been reduced or changed. In April 2018, the Chinese government ordered strict controls on the construction and layout of Islamic religious buildings. At the same time, buildings began to adhere to the principle of more destruction and less construction.
According to HRW researchers who examined satellite images, seven mosque minarets and domes were removed from 2019 to 2021 in two villages in Ningxia. In addition, four mosques were significantly altered, including the destruction of three of the mosque's main buildings and damage to the ablution area of one.
Hannah Theaker, a lecturer at the University of Plymouth in the UK, said, 'Removing ablution means you've made sure you can't use it again. This means that the place of worship is being practically removed.'
Hannah Theaker and University of Manchester researcher David Stroup estimate that there were about 1,300 registered mosques in Ningxia. About a third of these have closed since 2020. However, HRW could not specify exactly how many mosques have been closed. However, the official report says that this number is hundreds. Zhongwei city in Ningxia province has more than one million inhabitants. In 2019, local authorities said they had relocated 214 mosques, banned 37 and shrunk 58.