Chinese officials have delayed the plan to demolish a newly-built mosque in the country’s North West after hundreds of ethnic Hui Muslims held sit-in protests in what is said to be the largest standoff in Beijing’s efforts to clampdown on Islamisation, a media report said on Friday.
A huge crowd of ethnic Hui Muslims, the second largest Muslim group after Uygurs of Xinjiang, gathered from noon until late Thursday night in the square outside the Weizhou Grand Mosque thwarting plans by the local government to demolish the mosque.
The mosque is an imposing white structure topped with nine onion-shaped domes, crescent moons and four towering minarets.
The local county head came to the mosque around midnight, urging everyone to go home and promised that the government would not touch the newly-built structure until a reconstruction plan has been agreed upon by the townsmen, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported quoting local sources as saying.
An official notice which was said to have been issued by the Weizhou government on August 3 had given the mosque’s management committee a deadline to demolish the building by August 10 on the grounds that it had not been granted the necessary planning and construction permits.
The government’s order sparked an outcry in the Hui Muslim community, with many people questioning why the authorities did not stop the construction of the mosque which took two years to complete if it had not been granted the necessary paperwork.
An official white paper released in April this year stated that China has about 20 million Muslims. Both Uygurs and Hui Muslims have a population of about 10 million each.
China is currently carrying out massive crackdown against the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in the volatile Xinjiang province where majority Uyghurs have expressed concerns over the increasing settlements of the majority Han community.