Islamic sanctities in China, S. Korea threatened with demolition, suspension

Islamic sanctities in China, S. Korea threatened with demolition, suspension
Najieying Mosque- CC via Wikimedia/ it was taken in Yunnan, 20th March 2007

Clashes erupted between Muslim minorities in Tonghai County, Yuxi City of Yunnan Province and the Chinese police on May 27 after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities sent forces to demolish part of a historical mosque, reflecting how some East Asian countries are dealing with Islamic sanctities.


The dome of the Najiaying Mosque, one of the three mosques in the town, was “forcibly” removed by the CCP forces, causing anger among Hui residents (Chinese Muslims), who threw stones against thousands of forces, according to local media.


Social media users published video footage showing crowds of people and security forces gathered at the gate of the mosque when clashes erupted between the two sides.




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Meanwhile, Radio Free Asia said that it was reported that 30 people were arrested in the clashes, noting that other local media said that the police gave a prior notice about the demolition a week earlier.


The mosque was built in 1370 and was rebuilt in the period between 2001 and 2004, according to the Yunnan Exploration website.


It is not the first or only case of demolishing domes of mosques of Chinese Muslims, who constitute about 26 million people by 2020. In August 2018, Hui Muslims in Ningxia protested the authorities’ plan to demolish a new mosque, claiming that it was built without a legal permit although the construction took two years. 


In 2021, media reported that the Chinese authorities imposed a cultural crackdown on Muslim mosques in Xining city, where the famous Dongguan Mosque was subjected to changes, and Arabic-style domes and minarets were removed.


The Chinese authorities have proposed replacing the Middle Eastern-style towers of the mosques with Chinese-style pagodas, DW reported on August 10, 2018. 


In a statement issued on August 31, 2022, the United Nations voiced its concerns about violations committed by the Chinese authorities against Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim communities.



S. Korean locals oppose mosque construction 


In the eastern neighboring country, residents in the South Korean city of Daegu opposed building a mosque for the Muslim minority in a dispute that lasted for three years between the local residents and Muslim students of Kyungpook National University, RNP reported on May 24.


The students obtained a permit from the local authorities to build the mosque in September 2020 after they managed to raise funds for the construction since 2014. However, local residents petitioned against the permit, and the construction was suspended in February 2021. Later, a South Korean court annulled the suspension of the construction.


The Muslim community in the city is facing “discriminatory acts” by local residents, including putting pig heads outside the construction site, besides banners with anti-Muslims slogans. South Korea, which has no laws criminalizing hate speech, has more than 260,000 local and foreign Muslims as of 2019.


“The act of using pork in front of a mosque that is being built to disparage the Islamic culture and expressing and inciting hostility towards them is a typical expression of hatred against minorities based on race and religion,” said the state-owned National Human Rights Commission of Korea in a statement on March 16.