Two Chinese killed in clash after police demolish village mosque
AT LEAST two people were killed in Taoshan village in northwestern China after a violent clash with armed police who demolished their newly refurbished mosque before arresting scores of people.
Hundreds of police arrived in the village in the Hexi region of Ningxia last Thursday, the day before the demolition took place, and at 11pm that night the electricity and communications links were cut, said one villager. They raided several homes.
There were a lot of people in town because villagers had raised ¥800,000 (€98,000) to pay to refurbish the mosque and there were plans for a grand opening.
“Many of the donors working outside the village arrived on Friday and they went to the mosque to pray. The official opening was supposed to be January 1st.
“While the people were praying in the mosque the army came in and stopped everything,” he said.
More than 50 people were injured and 100 detained after the people, mostly members of the Muslim Hui minority, tried to stop the demolition.
The police used a water cannon and tear gas, and then they beat people.
The mosque was declared an “illegal religious place” and the military reportedly came from Lanzhou in neighbouring Gansu province.
There were at least 1,000 of them, the villager said.
He heard that his grandmother had died in the clash, but there was no confirmation. His father, brothers and cousins were missing. “They demolished the mosque immediately afterwards. They put the rubble in a big hole and buried it,” he said.
“I don’t know why they demolished the mosque. We never had issues with the government before. We follow the law and I don’t understand why this happened,” he said.
China has about 20 million Muslims, about half hailing from the Hui ethnic minority. Many of these came as traders along the ancient Silk Road that linked China to the West.
In the more than three decades of reform and opening up since the end of the Cultural Revolution, the government has allowed Muslims rebuild their places of worship and their schools after they were destroyed by Red Guards.
However, the central government keeps a close watch on all forms of religious activity, and because of separatist activity by largely Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang province, Muslim communities all over China have come in for special scrutiny.
Hui Muslims in China include several different different categories of Muslim minority groups and broadly covers people who practice Islam but are not Uighurs or members of other ethnic groups. Hui are found in many different parts of China, mostly in the northwest but also in Beijing, Yunnan and Inner Mongolia.