Chinese Muslims have decried the demolition of a century-old mosque in the country’s northwest, warning that the move could fuel ethnic tension in the country.
Chinese authorities demolished the mosque in Taoshan village in Ningxia region in north-western China earlier this week. The mosque, which dates back to the Qing dynasty of the 19th century, had been legally registered with Chinese authorities.
But authorities declared the mosque an “illegal religious place” after residents raised 800,000 ($127,000) to renovate it.
The demolition has sparked clashes between residents and security forces, which left at least two people dead.
The violence was unusual as Taoshan villagers are Hui, who are more assimilated than other Muslim minorities, like the Uighurs.
Hui Muslims are estimated at nearly 10 million of China's sizable Muslim minority of 20 million.
With a heritage traced back to the Middle East and Central Asia, Hui Muslims are enjoying more religious freedom in the atheist country.
Chinese Muslims are worried that the mosque demolition will escalate tension between authorities and the Muslim minority in the country.
According to official data, China has 20 million Muslims, most of them are concentrated in Xinjiang, Ningxia, Gansu, and Qinghai regions and provinces. Smaller Muslim communities can also be found throughout interior China.
Unofficially, Muslim groups say the number is even higher, stating that there are from 65-100 million Muslims in China — up to 7.5 per-cent of the population.
China recognizes five religions — Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Taoism and Buddhism — and tightly regulates their administration and practice.
Darul Ihsan Media Desk