Uyghurs in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region say that authorities are continuing a campaign to destroy mosques as part of a wider crackdown on their religion, contradicting a recent comment by a Chinese diplomat that the region has more mosques per capita than other countries.
Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the United Kingdom since 2009, wrote in a letter to the Financial Times on Aug. 20 that there are 24,400 mosques in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), in response to recent news reports, including an earlier one in that newspaper, about the worsening human rights situation there.
“Normal religious activities are protected by law,” he wrote about Xinjiang.
The XUAR accounts for one-sixth of China’s land and is home to roughly 23 million people from several ethnic minority groups, the largest of which are the Uyghurs — a predominantly Muslim community with ties to central Asia, whose number exceeds 11 million.
But Liu failed to mention, however, the ongoing demolition of mosques that began in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) and in Hoten (in Chinese Hetian) in 2017 as part of a “rectification” campaign launched by Chinese authorities and overseen by local police.