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Has China extended Xinjiang repression to include Hui Muslims in the south-east?

The Najiaying Mosque in Chinese province of Yunnan (Photo: Twitter)

Hui Muslims and the Chinese police reportedly clashed on May 27, 2023, after China tried to demolish the Najiaying Mosque in Tonghai County, Yunnan province in the country’s south-east. Yunnan province borders Myanmar and other south-east Asian nations.

Western media too reported that thousands of men, women and children had gathered around the mosque in a bid to stop the demolition. Besides beating up the worshippers with batons, the police arrested dozens of Muslims.

According to a press release by the Washington-based Center for Uyghur Studies (CUS), the Najiaying Mosque is a historic mosque built during the Ming Dynasty. “Local authorities included the mosque in its list of demolition in 2020, alleging the mosque had ‘illegally occupied lands’,” says the release.

Clashes took place after the local Muslims who went for prayers noticed earthmoving equipment and barricades around the mosque.

The organisation said that the Chinese regime, which has been posing as a “friend” to the Islamic World, has been implementing policies that violate the rights and religious freedom of Muslims, especially in East Turkistan, also known as Xinjiang. “The incident in Yunnan is just one of the examples of China’s war on Islam. Today, China is the only country in the world that demolishes mosques and interns millions of Muslims into concentration camps”, added CUS.

CUS Executive Director Abdulhakim Idris says: “Many Muslims think Islamophobia is confined to the West. China never comes to their mind when Islamophobia is discussed. In fact, China is the most islamophobic country in the world today. The critical difference between Islamophobia in China and the rest of the world is that Islamophobia in China is deeply rooted in both the state system and societal traditions. Unfortunately, the Islamic World has so far failed to speak out against Islamophobia in China”.

Idris also highlights the hypocrisy of the Muslim nations.

He says that Muslim-majority countries that condemn Islamophobic incidents in Western countries support China’s war on Islam. As an example, he points out that incidents like Quran burning in the West draws condemnation from the Islamic World but if something similar or worse happens in China, Muslim nations do not denounce it.

Last month, the Uyghur activist was in Malaysia where he appealed to Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to support the Muslims in China. However, the Malaysia leader reportedly said the Uyghur issue was “the internal matter of the Chinese government”.

Idris says that since 2014, the Chinese regime has locked up millions of Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims into concentration camps under the guise of “re-education and de-extremification” and claimed that Islam is a “mental illness” of which the Uyghur Muslims should be cured.

The CUS also appealed to the Islamic World, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Islamic NGOs to “denounce China’s Islamophobic policies and violations of religious freedom”.

Also read: Why are the Muslim nations keeping quiet over Xinjiang abuse?