Disappearing Mosques of Xinjiang

Since spring 2017, Chinese authorities have increased their suppression efforts against Islam, demolishing innumerable mosques and sending Muslims to re-education camps.

Recently, a Bitter Winter reporter visited the sites of six demolished mosques in the city of Kumul, discovering that while some remnants could still be found at one of the sites, the other five had already been leveled, disappearing without a trace.

A local resident who lives near the site of one of the demolished mosques commented, “The authorities destroying mosques and restricting or prohibiting Uyghurs from gathering for prayer service infringe on their freedom of religion. There are many Uyghurs who call Xinjiang their home, and nearly every group and every village have their own mosque. Right now, in Xinjiang, the number of mosques has already decreased by more than a half, and in the future, there may be no mosques left at all.”

People in Kumul have revealed that many mosques had been demolished in places such as Sibao of the Yizhou district in the city. Was it not for the locals, the outsiders would not even know that there have ever been mosques on those sites.

During the reporter’s visit, one resident gave an account of the overnight disappearance of a mosque near her house. “In November of 2017, at around 8 p.m., I saw the mosque for the last time, because, the next day at 9 a.m., when I walked by, the mosque had already been leveled. My house is only about 100 meters from the mosque, but I didn’t even hear anything that night. I don’t even know what time they tore it down.”

Commenting on the reason for the demolition of the mosque, an elderly man, over 70-years-old, said, “There’s nothing we can do; the Communist Party said the mosque was too difficult to manage, so they just tore it down.”