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Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report on Wednesday revealing that China’s campaign of shutting down mosques, previously concentrated in Xinjiang, has extended to other regions with significant Muslim populations.

The report cites the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, highlighting that since 2017, two-thirds of the mosques in Xinjiang have been destroyed or damaged, with about half being completely demolished.

HRW’s report delves into the Chinese government’s broader strategy of ‘mosque consolidation,’ which has now reached the provinces of Ningxia and Gansu, home to the largest Muslim communities in China after Xinjiang. While the exact number of mosques affected in Ningxia and Gansu remains unclear, preliminary research suggests a significant reduction, with about one-third of mosques in Ningxia reportedly closed since 2020.

This move aligns with President Xi Jinping’s policy of ‘Sinicization’ of religions, an initiative aimed at integrating Chinese Communist Party influence into religious practices, leading to increased state control over religious expression.

Maya Wang, the acting China Director at Human Rights Watch, condemned these actions as violations of religious freedom, emphasizing the systematic nature of mosque closures and repurposing as part of a campaign to restrict the practice of Islam in China.

HRW’s report calls on the Chinese government to reverse these policies and release those detained for religious practices, citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which upholds the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. The report also urges international action, particularly from member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, to pressure China to halt its campaign against Muslims.


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