In western democracies, hate wave against Muslims has been institutionalized in the form of legislation against full-face veil in France Belgium and Denmark. In Germany far right political parties are clamouring for such legislation and in Austria seven mosques have been closed down and 40 Imams have been expelled. In Communist China, hate against Muslims has been demonstrated as outright crackdown against them which is on from 1990s. Authorities in Northern China has delayed the demolition of a large centuries historical mosque on Saturday after thousands of people demonstrated to stop its destruction, amid a nationwide government’s drive to unnecessarily tighten restrictions on religious activities.
Across China, officials have sought to restrict religious freedom for Muslims as a part of widespread attempt to bring believers in line with the dictates of ruling communist party. Protestors began gathering on Thursday ahead of deadline to demolish the Grand Mosque in the town of Weizhou in the Northern Nigxia region. The Muslims in this region are Han Chinese. Videos posted on social media in recent days showed protesters gathering in front of Mosque building as police with riot shields stood by. Holding Chinese flags they sat quietly on the building’s steps and milled around a large plaza, before heading to Friday night prayers, showed a video. The government claims that it is an illegal building but in fact it is not. The mosque has hundred years of history, told a restaurant owner.
The feelings of anger, outrage and indignation against the planned demolition of a historic mosque has also impacted other parts of China. People had come hundreds of kilometers from other Muslim regions to show support for their brethren in Weizhou and brought food for them. Security forces have been brought in to secure perimeter around the area, not allowing outsiders in. It is like a virtual siege of the town of Weizhuo. Internet and 4G mobile phone had been cut off to area resuming some 14 Kilometers away from the besieged town.
Islam is one of the five officially recognized religions in China, home to 23 million Muslims. Pressure has been building on Muslim community in recent months as communist party moves to tighten the rein on religious expression. China’s top leader recently called for the ‘Sinicisation” of religious practice with a view to bringing it in line with “traditional” Chinese values and culture. A new regulation on religious affairs came into effect in February sparking concerns among human rights groups.
The measure increased state supervision of religion in a bid to “block extremism” and in areas with significant Muslim population; authorities have removed Islamic symbols, such as crescent from public places. This move will turn out counter productive and will further fan the tendency towards extremism. The crackdown and high handedness of Chinese leadership is not confined to Han Chinese adherents to Muslim faith. Uighur Turk Muslims are on the receiving end in Xinjiang region for almost three decades. It is nothing but the worst form of Chinese imperialism perpetrating atrocities on the Muslim community of China.
The tension between the Uighur Muslims and Chinese authorities started when actions were taken to change their demography and curbs were imposed on the fundamentals of Islam. Buddhist Han Chinese were brought to Xinjiang autonomous region in large numbers to settle there. It is the largest of China’s administrative regions, which borders eight countries including Magnolia, Russia, Kazakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Until recently its population was mostly Uyghur. They are Muslims and Islam is an important part of their life and identity. Their language is related to Turkish and they regard themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations.
The settlement policy of Buddhist Chinese in large numbers has swollen their population to 40 percent in Xinjiang. The authorities give preference to Han Chinese over Uighur Muslims in giving high paid and lucrative jobs. Right groups and Amnesty International, in a report published in 2013, said authorities criminalised what they call illegal religious groups and blame them for separatist activities to justify the clamp down on peaceful expressions of cultural identity. In July 2014, some Xinjiang government departments banned Muslim civil servants from fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.
China has been accused of intensifying crack down on Uighur after street protests in 1990 and again in the run up of Beijing Olympics in 2008. But things escalated in 2009 with large scale ethnic rioting in the regional capital, Urumqi. Some 200 people were killed, most of them Han Chinese. The crack down on Han and Uighur Muslim communities, particularly the actions of the state to change their religious and cultural identity is not justified and the Islamic countries should take up the matter with China through diplomatic channels. The Chinese government must realize the fact that a Muslim country of South Asia, Malaysia has a significant population of Buddhist Chimes, lest they may not get the backlash.