Source: South China Morning Post
In a west China city, Muslim children have been banned from religious activity, while authorities have curtailed the number of people over 16 allowed to study and limited the certification processes for new imams
Green-domed mosques still dominate the skyline of China’s “Little Mecca”, but they have undergone a profound change – no longer do boys flit through their stone courtyards en route to classes and prayers.
In what locals said they fear is a deliberate move to eradicate Islam, the atheist ruling Communist Party has banned children under 16 from religious activity or study in Linxia, a deeply Islamic region in western China’s Gansu province that had offered a haven of comparative religious freedom for the ethnic Hui Muslims there.
China governs Xinjiang, another majority Muslim region in its far west, with an iron fist to weed out what it calls “religious extremism” and “separatism” in the wake of deadly unrest, throwing ethnic Uygurs into shadowy re-education camps without due process for minor infractions such as owning a Koran or even growing a beard.
Ethnic Hui Muslim men pray at Nanguan Mosque in Linxia, where children under 16 have been banned from engaging in religious activity or study. Photo: AFP
Now, Hui Muslims fear similar surveillance and repression.
“The winds have shifted” in the past year, said a senior imam who requested anonymity. “Frankly, I’m very afraid they’re going to implement the Xinjiang model here.”
— Zia H Shah (@ZiahShah1) March 16, 2016