05/02/2019, 00.00
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Mosques demolished, checks on faithful: Beijing steps up its campaign of repression of Islam

A "global" campaign against Uighurs in Xinjiang is underway, according to activists and experts.  Historic places of worship razed to the ground, such as the Keriye Heytgah mosque, in the area of ​​Hotan.  Turkish scholars: China wants to "eradicate every element that recalls Islam".  The governments of nations with a Muslim majority criticize in words, but they favor trade with their facts.



Istanbul (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of thousands of cameras for facial control, telephone applications to trace the use of mobile phones, dozens of places of worship - including historic mosques - destroyed and over a million faithful in detention centers.  In recent times, the Beijing leadership has strengthened its grip on Muslims in the Xinjiang region, the country's extreme western periphery, where about 41% of the inhabitants profess Islam.

Activists and religious freedom experts term the campaign against the Uyghurs as "global" and that Muslim-majority nations, particularly in the Arab Middle East, condemn in words but, in fact, they prefer to preserve trade with China.  On the one hand, Beijing considers the Muslim minority a threat to security and, on the other hand, feeds Islamophobia to justify controversial policies in the region.

In the context of the repression campaign, the authorities demolished historic buildings in the region.  In the last two years, mosques have also been affected by removing some parts such as gates or domes, or demolishing the entire structure.  A policy of repression that applies to Islam, as well as to other religions, especially the Christian one, aimed at "sinizing" the cult and those who profess it.

A group of Turkish scholars attacks the Beijing government, which is attempting to "assimilate millions of Muslims in East Turkestan [Xinjiang, ed.]" And which has "just destroyed the Keriye Heytgah mosque, in the area of ​​Hotan, dating back to about  800 years ago ”.  China, they add, wants to "eradicate every element that recalls Islam and the Turkish identity" and that only recently "about 50 shrines have been destroyed" and replaced with statues or other elements of urban decor.

Satellite images gathered by scholars confirm the devastation that struck mosques in the county of Kargilik, in southwestern Xinjiang, which have been "completely destroyed".  And again, parts of the Keriya Aitika mosque burned to the ground.  It is a historic building dating back to 1237, the same period as the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Faced with  these devastations, Muslim nations have reacted by expressing perfunctionary condemnation, but being careful to safeguard relations and trade with the land of the dragon.  In December, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), considered the "voice of Muslims" , confirmed the existence of "controversial reports" emerging from the western sector of China and speak of repression and abuse.

However, last month OIC itself published a report "praising the efforts" made by the People's Republic "in providing assistance to its citizens [including Muslims]" and called for "further collaboration" between the two realities.  Words that have raised controversy and attacks within the Islamic world, with many wondering if OIC is "at the service of Islam or China's policies".

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