International Desk: Muslims in southwest China's Yunnan province have protested plans to demolish a mosque dome in a Muslim-majority city. Muslims clashed with the police in Yunnan to protest against the decision to demolish parts of the mosque.
In a video posted on social media, many Muslims gathered outside the 13th-century Najiaying Mosque in Yunnan's Nagu city last Saturday. At that time, there was a chase between the police and the local Muslims. Later, hundreds of armed police officers dispersed the protesters. Yunnan, China's ethnically diverse southwestern province, has a significant Muslim population. Although officially an atheist state, religious freedom is allowed in China.
But observers say persecution of organized religion has increased in the country in recent years. At the same time, Beijing wants to impose more control on religious observance. Nagor Najiyaing Masjid is one of the most important Muslim buildings. In the last few years, the size of this mosque was increased with the construction of a domed roof and several minarets. But in 2020, a country's court declared the mosque's expansion illegal and ordered its demolition.
Recently, the decision to demolish the dome and extension of the mosque is believed to be taken to implement the court order. However, the Muslims there protested against this decision of the government. The BBC has verified the authenticity of the videos of Saturday's protests. In the video, it is seen that the policemen are standing in a row preventing the Muslims from entering the mosque. At this time, many people tried to enter the mosque by force. Besides, a group of protestors are throwing stones at the police as they are barred from entering the mosque.
In several other videos, police are seen later leaving the front of the mosque. Later, the protesting Muslims entered the mosque. Police in Yunnan's Tonghai County issued a statement on Sunday calling on protesters to surrender to police by June 6. Dozens of Muslims have already been arrested by the police on suspicion of involvement in the protest. The statement said, those who will voluntarily surrender and truthfully confess to violations of law and crimes; They may be given light or lenient punishment.
It also called on others to provide information about the protesters to the authorities, calling the incident at the Naziying Mosque a 'serious disturbance to order in social management'. Such protests are relatively rare in China. But during the coronavirus pandemic, there was anger among the general public in the country against the continued strict lockdown and movement restrictions for a long time. A few months ago, thousands of people protested in different parts of the country to demand the withdrawal of the Corona regulations.
The Hui are one of the 56 ethnic groups recognized by Beijing. And members of this Hui community are pro-Sunni Muslims. There are about one million Hui Muslims across China. About 70,000 of them live in Yunnan, southwest of the country. The Hui community is often referred to as 'Chinese Muslims' in local media reports. The Hui, who have lived in the country for the past several centuries, have been well-received in Chinese society with the practice of intermarriage and recognition in other areas. Observers say Beijing has been trying to impose greater control over China's various religious groups in recent years.