- A joint investigation by The Guardian UK and Bellingcat, cited by Newsweek, says over 20 mosques have been demolished in China’s Xinjiang province
- The investigation also reportedly found nine buildings that were used as mosques but did not have architectural features typical of such religious sites had also been destroyed
- China has been consistently accused of destroying religious buildings as part of a calculated attempt to uproot Muslim culture in the region but the government refuted the claims
Over 20 mosques have been allegedly demolished in China’s Xinjiang province, an autonomous territory located in northwest China, over the past three years, Newsweek reports.
The US newspaper, citing an investigation by The Guardian UK and Bellingcat, reports that a number of Islamic religious sites in the Chinese region have been completely or partly destroyed since 2016.
Legit.ng gathers that the investigation used satellite imagery to examine 91 different religious sites in the region and found that 31 mosques and two major shrines had suffered significant structural damage over the past three years.
The investigation also reportedly found nine buildings that were used as mosques but did not have architectural features typical of such religious sites had also been destroyed.
The sites analyzed during the investigation were identified by former residents, researchers and crowdfunded mapping tools.
The Yutian Aitika mosque near Hotan, just north of China’s border with Pakistan, was reportedly among those demolished. The mosque dated back to 1,200 and was a popular site for local residents during religious holidays.
The Kargilik mosque, one of the largest in the region, and the Imam Asim complex were also reported destroyed.
The Xinjiang province is home to many ethnic minority groups, including the Turkic Uyghurs. Along with the Uyghurs, other Turkic Muslim groups, such as the Kazakhs and Kyrgyz, have reportedly been persecuted in China.
According to figures from the US State Department, between 800,000 and 2 million people belonging to Muslim minorities are held in what the Chinese government calls “re-education camps.”
Though the Chinese government claims the practice is used to combat what it calls terrorism, the camps have been widely criticised.
China has been consistently accused of destroying religious buildings as part of a calculated attempt to uproot Muslim culture in the region.
The government, however, has refuted the claims. China’s Foreign Ministry insisted that freedom of religion remains a pillar of the country’s society. “China practices freedom of religion and firmly opposes and combats religious extremist thought,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuangwas quoted to have said.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that Chinese police shut down three mosques due to what it tagged ''illegal religious education''.
The crackdown was reportedly carried out by over 100 police officers operating under the directives of government.
The mosques were located in Weishan county in southwest China's Yunnan province.
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