China mosque demolition sparks stand-off in Ningxia

China mosque demolition sparks stand-off in Ningxia


Hundreds of Muslims in north-western China are engaged in a standoff with authorities to prevent their mosque from being demolished. Officials said the newly built Weizhou Grand Mosque in the Ningxia region had not been given proper building permits. But worshippers refused to back down - one resident said they "won't let the government touch the mosque".

China is home to some 23 million Muslims, and Islam has been prominent in Ningxia for centuries. But rights groups say there is increasing official hostility towards Muslims in China, and foreign religious influences in particular. The mosque, which has several soaring minarets and domes, is built in a Middle Eastern style.

For centuries Hui Muslim mosques had been built in a more Chinese style, and it appears that the new structure is viewed by the local government as an example of a growing Arabisation of Chinese Islam. Officials had on 3 August posted a notice that the mosque would be "forcibly demolished" as it had not been granted the necessary planning and construction permits.

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