Police-protester clash over mosque demolition in China
Yunnan, May 31: Protesters clashed with police over the planned demolition of a traditional mosque dome in a major Muslim-majority city in China's Yunnan province.
The Najiang Mosque in Nagu was built in the 13th century. In some videos circulating on social media, a large number of people were seen protesting in front of the mosque last Saturday. At one point, hundreds of armed police were deployed to stop the protesters when a chase started between the police and the locals.
Yunnan is an ethnically diverse province in southern China, with a significant Muslim population. China is officially an atheist country and the country's government claims that all religions are free to practice. But observers say the country has seen a crackdown on organized religion in recent years. Because, Beijing wants to tighten control over the whole country.
According to BBC, Naziang Mosque is one of the historical structures of Nagu city. The mosque has been enlarged recently through several renovations. Along with the construction of a new dome, several minarets were also constructed. But in 2020, a Chinese court declared the extension of the mosque illegal and ordered it to be demolished.
When the local administration started taking action to comply with the court order, the locals got angry and started protesting. In the video, it can be seen that a group of police lined up and blocked the entrance to the mosque. And a group of locals pelted stones at the police and tried to force their way into the mosque.
Another video shows police withdrawing from the mosque premises to allow the crowd to enter the Naziang mosque. Later on Sunday, the Tanghai County Police issued a notice and ordered the protesters to surrender to the police by June 6. Nagu City is within Tanghai County.
Observers say Beijing has sought greater control over the country's religious communities and their social systems in recent years.
The Hui is one of the 56 indigenous communities in China recognized by Beijing. The Huira are mainly Sunni Muslims. There are about one million Hui Muslims in China. About 700,000 of them live in southwestern Yunnan province.