Human Rights Watch Accuses China of Destroying Mosques

In a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the Chinese government of engaging in an effort to curb the practice of Islam in the country. This involves the closure, destruction, and repurposing of mosques, particularly in the northern regions of Ningxia and Gansu. With an estimated 20 million Muslims in China.

China Destroying Mosques

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China officially an atheist state, has an increased crackdown on organized religion in recent years, with the government seeking control over religious practices.

President Xi Jinping’s leadership has been efforts to align religion with the Communist Party‘s political ideology and Chinese culture.

The government’s actions for Xinjiang, where Uyghur Muslims have faced allegations of systematic human rights abuses, to other regions with Muslim populations.

According to Human Rights Watch, the closure, destruction, and repurposing of mosques are part of an official plan known as consolidation.

The report reveals that between 2019 and 2021, seven mosques in the villages of Liaoqiao and Chuankou in Ningxia had their domes and minarets removed.

Three mosques were razed to the ground, four were altered, and the ablution hall of one was damaged. Satellite imagery were used to analyze the fate of these mosques.

In Ningxia alone approximately 1,300 mosques, representing a third of the total registered mosques in the region, have been closed since 2020. The government claims that the consolidation of mosques helps reduce the economic burden on Muslims.

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President Xi Jinping’s push for Sinicisation aims to transform religious beliefs to reflect Chinese culture and society.

This campaign has led to the control and consolidation of mosques, as outlined in a 2018 document from the Chinese Communist Party’s central committee.

The document urged state governments to demolish more and build fewer mosques, addressing strict monitoring of their construction and funding.

The campaign’s impact has been most severe in regions like Xinjiang and Tibet, but it has now extended to areas with Hui Muslim populations, such as Ningxia and Gansu.

Human Rights Watch reports that the consolidation policy often involves merging mosques within close proximity, leading to a decline in religious participation among younger and middle-aged individuals.

While some residents have publicly opposed the Sinicisation policies, their resistance has often been met with repression.

Over the years, many individuals have been jailed after clashing with authorities over the demolition of mosques.

The government’s tactics involve not only removing external elements from mosques but also dismantling facilities for religious activities, such as ablution halls and preacher’s podiums.

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Human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch, have called attention to the systematic suppression of Islamic practices in China.

The Arab and Muslim leaders, has been urged to ask questions about the government’s actions. The Muslim population, as other ethnic and religious minorities in China have also been affected by the government’s campaign, including the renaming of regions of religious symbols.

The Chinese government, through a spokesperson, stated that it is fighting religious extremism that people of all ethnic groups in China are entitled to the freedom of religious belief.

The government maintains that it follows policies that protect freedom of religious belief and administers religious affairs in accordance with the law.

The spokesperson rejected the notion that the destruction of mosques represent a violation of religious freedom, asserting that believer’s normal religious activities are guaranteed.

The UN’s report on Xinjiang last year labeled China’s actions, including the establishment of internment camps, as crimes against humanity.

The evidence of systematic human rights abuses has calls for a thorough investigation into China’s actions for those responsible.

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