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Approximately 16,000 mosques in Xinjiang (65% of the total) have been destroyed or damaged as a result of government policies

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Chhatrapati

ELITE MEMBER
Aug 4, 2016
10,141
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8,334
Country
India
Location
Mauritius
What’s the problem?

The Chinese Government has embarked on a systematic and intentional campaign to rewrite the cultural heritage of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). It’s seeking to erode and redefine the culture of the Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking communities—stripping away any Islamic, transnational or autonomous elements—in order to render those indigenous cultural traditions subservient to the ‘Chinese nation’.

Using satellite imagery, we estimate that approximately 16,000 mosques in Xinjiang (65% of the total) have been destroyed or damaged as a result of government policies, mostly since 2017. An estimated 8,500 have been demolished outright, and, for the most part, the land on which those razed mosques once sat remains vacant. A further 30% of important Islamic sacred sites (shrines, cemeteries and pilgrimage routes, including many protected under Chinese law) have been demolished across Xinjiang, mostly since 2017, and an additional 28% have been damaged or altered in some way.

Alongside other coercive efforts to re-engineer Uyghur social and cultural life by transforming or eliminating Uyghurs’ language, music, homes and even diets,1 the Chinese Government’s policies are actively erasing and altering key elements of their tangible cultural heritage.

Many international organisations and foreign governments have turned a blind eye. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) have remained silent in the face of mounting evidence of cultural destruction in Xinjiang. Muslim-majority countries, in particular, have failed to challenge the Chinese Government over its efforts to domesticate, sinicise and separate Uyghur culture from the wider Islamic world.
What’s the solution?

The Chinese Government must abide by Article 4 of China’s Constitution and allow the indigenous communities of Xinjiang to preserve their own cultural heritage and uphold the freedom of religious belief outlined in Article 36. It must abide by the autonomous rights of minority communities to protect their own cultural heritage under the 1984 Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy.

UNESCO and ICOMOS should immediately investigate the state of Uyghur and Islamic cultural heritage in Xinjiang and, if the Chinese Government is found to be in violation of the spirit of both organisations, it should be appropriately sanctioned.

Governments throughout the world must speak out and pressure the Chinese Government to end its campaign of cultural erasure in Xinjiang, and consider sanctions or even the boycotting of major cultural events held in China, including sporting events such as the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

The UN must act on the September 2020 recommendation by a global coalition of 321 civil society groups from 60 countries to urgently create an independent international mechanism to address the Chinese Government’s human rights violations, including in Xinjiang.

Executive summary

Under President Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has adopted a more interventionist approach to nation building along China’s ethnic periphery. Indigenous non-Han cultures, which are considered backward, uncivilised and now potentially dangerous by CCP leaders, must yield to the Han normative centre in the name of an ostensibly unmarked ‘Chinese’ (中华) culture.3

The deliberate erasure of tangible elements of indigenous Uyghur and Islamic culture in Xinjiang appears to be a centrally driven yet locally implemented policy, the ultimate aim of which is the ‘sinicisation’ (中国化) of indigenous cultures, and ultimately, the complete ‘transformation’ (转化) of the Uyghur community’s thoughts and behaviour.

In work for this report, we sought to quantify the extent of the erasure and alteration of tangible indigenous cultural heritage in Xinjiang through the creation of two new datasets recording:

  • demolition of or damage to mosques; and
  • demolition of or damage to important religious–cultural sites, including shrines (mazars), cemeteries and pilgrimage routes.
With both the datasets, we sought to compare the situation before and after early 2017, when the Chinese Government embarked on its new campaign of repression and ‘re-education’ across Xinjiang.

Media and non-government organisation reports have unearthed individual examples of the deliberate destruction of mosques and culturally significant sites in recent years.4 Our analysis found that such destruction is likely to be more widespread than reported, and that an estimated one in three mosques in Xinjiang has been demolished, mostly since 2017.

This equates to roughly 8,450 mosques (±4%) destroyed across Xinjiang, and a further estimated 7,550 mosques (±3.95%) have been damaged or ‘rectified’ to remove Islamic-style architecture and symbols. Cultural destruction often masquerades as restoration or renovation work in Xinjiang. Despite repeated claims that Xinjiang has more than 24,000 mosques5 and that the Chinese Government is ‘committed to protecting its citizens’ freedom of religious belief while respecting and protecting religious cultures’,6 we estimate that there are currently fewer than 15,500 mosques in Xinjiang (including more than 7,500 that have been damaged to some extent). This is the lowest number since the Cultural Revolution, when fewer than 3,000 mosques remained (Figure 1).


Figure 1: The number of mosques in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region since its founding



Note: The estimates from our research are included as the 2020 datapoint. Mosques that have been damaged but not destroyed are shown in orange. Source: Li Xiaoxia (李晓霞), ‘Analysis on the quantity change and management policy of Xinjiang mosques’ (新疆清真寺的数量变化及管理政策分析), Sociology of Ethnicity (民族社会学研究通讯), vol. 164 (2018), p. 40, online; and ASPI analysis.

Mosques across Xinjiang were rebuilt following the Cultural Revolution, and some were significantly renovated between 2012 and 2016, including by the construction of Arab- and Islamic-style domes and minarets. However, immediately after, beginning in 2016, government authorities embarked on a systematic campaign to ‘rectify’ and in many cases outright demolish mosques.

Areas visited by large numbers of tourists are an exception to this trend in the rest of Xinjiang: in the regional capital, Urumqi, and in the city of Kashgar, almost all mosques remain structurally intact.

Most of the sites where mosques were demolished haven’t been rebuilt or repurposed and remain vacant. We present three case studies (on the renovation and demolition of mosques in northern Xinjiang, the land use of demolished mosques, and the destruction of the Grand Mosque of Kargilik) to highlight the impacts of this process of erasure.

Besides mosques, Chinese Government authorities have also desecrated important sacred shrines, cemeteries and pilgrimage sites. Our data and analysis suggest that 30% of those sacred sites have been demolished, mostly since 2017. An additional 27.8% have been damaged in some way. In total, 17.4% of sites protected under Chinese law have been destroyed, and 61.8% of unprotected sites have been damaged or destroyed. We present two case studies (the destruction of the ancient pilgrimage route of Ordam Mazar and of Aksu’s sacred cemeteries) to show in detail the impact on sacred spaces.
 

Chhatrapati

ELITE MEMBER
Aug 4, 2016
10,141
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Country
India
Location
Mauritius
Methodology
The Chinese Government’s 2004 Economic Census identified more than 72,000 officially registered religious sites across China, including more than 24,000 mosques in Xinjiang.8 Given the lack of access to Xinjiang and the sheer number of sites, we used satellite imagery to build a new dataset of pre-2017 mosques and sacred sites.
We found the precise coordinates of more than 900 sites before the 2017 crackdown, including 533 mosques and 382 shrines and other sacred sites.
Each of those sites was then cross-referenced against recent (2019–2020) satellite imagery and categorised as destroyed, significantly damaged, slightly damaged or undamaged. In most cases, significant damage relates to part of the site being destroyed or to Islamic-style architecture (such as domes and minarets) being removed.
We then used a sample-based methodology to make statistically robust estimates of the region-wide rates of destruction by cross-referencing it to data from the 2004 Economic Census, by prefecture.9
For prefectures for which we had a sample of more than 2.5% of mosques, the prefecture-wide destruction and damage rates were extrapolated directly from the observed sites in our sample.
The rate of destruction in prefectures that were undersampled (having less than 2.5% of all mosques located) was estimated by averaging the observed prefectural rate of destruction and the region-wide rate (excluding the regional capital, Urumqi). We estimated the total number of mosques destroyed and damaged by combining those prefectural-level extrapolations.
This analysis is only able to determine demolition or other visible structural changes to the sites. Based on our sample, the razing of mosques appears to have been carried out broadly across Xinjiang, and neither urban nor rural mosques were more likely to be damaged or demolished.
Urumqi and the tourist city of Kashgar are outliers where most mosque buildings remain visibly intact.
Those cities are frequented by domestic and international visitors and serve to conceal the broader destruction of Uyghur culture while curating the image of Xinjiang as a site of ‘cultural integration’ and ‘inter-ethnic mingling’.10
For more details on how our calculations were done and how to access the raw data, see the appendix to this report.

Results and case studies
Mosques
In total, we located and analysed a sample of 533 mosques across Xinjiang, including 129 from Urumqi. Of those mosques, 170 were destroyed (31.9%), 175 were damaged (32.8%) and 188 remained undamaged (35.3%). Urumqi has only 1.4% of Xinjiang’s mosques, despite representing 24% of our sample, and was an outlier that showed lower rates of mosque demolition (17% versus an average of 36% in other prefectures). Of the 404 mosques we sampled in other parts of Xinjiang, 148 were destroyed (36.6%), 152 were damaged (37.6%) and 104 were undamaged (25.8%). Figure 2 summarises the percentages of sampled mosques destroyed or damaged, by prefecture.
Figure 2: Percentage of sampled mosques that are damaged or destroyed, by prefecture, XUAR

Note: Territorial borders shown on maps in this report do not indicate acceptance by ASPI, in general they attempt to show current territorial control and not claims from any country. Source: ASPI ICPC.
The destruction of mosques appears to be correlated with the value authorities place on a region’s tourist potential; for example, Urumqi has a low rate of demolition, followed by the major tourist sites like Kashgar.11 Yet, it should be noted, both cities have undergone and continue to undergo significant urban development, which has resulted in the demolition or ‘renovation’ of part of Kashgar’s old city and the Uyghur-dominated Tengritagh and Saybagh districts of Urumqi.12
Extrapolating those figures on a prefectural level from official statistics allowed us to estimate the full number of destroyed and damaged mosques in Xinjiang. We found that across the XUAR approximately 16,000 mosques have been damaged or destroyed and 8,450 have been entirely demolished. The 95% confidence range of our regional findings is ±4% for the estimates of demolished, destroyed and undamaged mosque numbers. The full prefectural breakdown is shown in Table 1 and Figure 3.
Table 1: Full results showing the prefectural breakdown of mosques in Xinjiang, our sampling data and our estimates of damaged numbers


Note: In this table XPCC refers to the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (Bingtuan), a government entity distinct to Xinjiang’s regional government that directly administers large areas of the XUAR. Source: ASPI ICPC.
Figure 3: The estimated number of mosques destroyed or damaged in each prefecture of the XUAR

Note: Red dots represent the estimated number of destroyed mosques, orange represents the estimated number of damaged mosques. The number written shows these two combined. For full details see Table 1. Source: ASPI ICPC.
Officials from the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have repeatedly claimed that Xinjiang has more than 24,000 mosques and cite that as evidence of the state’s respect for religious freedom.13
However, our analysis shows that in most prefectures a majority of mosques and other sites of Islamic worship are being destroyed or transformed in ways that erode their religious and cultural significance.
In June 2015, Yang Weiwei, a researcher at the official CCP school in the northern prefecture of Altay, clearly articulated one of the perceived threats that authorities believe mosques pose to social stability in Xinjiang.14 Without providing evidence, she asserted that ‘the number of mosques in Xinjiang far exceeds the needs of normal religious activities,’ and instead provide venues for separatists and extremists to proselytise. The Islamic faith of Uyghurs in southern Xinjiang, she claimed, is propelling society away from traditional secularism towards conservatism, and challenging CCP rule. ‘In southern Xinjiang, the capacities of the party’s grassroot organs are hampered, but the role of mosques [is] constantly being strengthened,’ she warned.15
Her report specifically recommended that mosques be demolished, saying that only one mosque should exist in each administrative unit, that their design should adhere to strict unified standards (implying the removal of Islamic and Arab architecture), and that their opening hours should be limited to a single day every week and holidays.16
That recommendation doesn’t appear to be restricted to Altay Prefecture. Our evidence suggests the demolition and ‘rectification’ of mosques is more severe in other prefectures in Xinjiang, 17 of which (out of the 19 that we recorded) have higher rates of mosque demolition than Altay.
Xinjiang’s latest ‘mosque rectification’ (清真寺整改) campaign, which was conducted under the guise of improving public services and safety, began in 2016 and gathered pace under the new Xinjiang Party Secretary, Chen Quanguo.17 Local authorities were responding in part to Xi Jinping’s call for the ‘sinification’ (中国化) and the ‘deradicalisation’ (去极端化) of religion in Xinjiang.18 The vast majority of mosques in our sample that remained undamaged had no existing visible Islamic architectural features and didn’t need modification to adhere to the strict standards set out by the regional ‘rectification’ campaign.
Additionally, media reports suggest that a number of mosques that remain physically intact (and therefore would be classified as undamaged in our dataset) have been secularised or converted into commercial or civic spaces, including cafe-bars19 and even public toilets.20 We aren’t able to quantify this practice using our methodology.
However, visitors to the region since 2017, who saw several still-standing mosques and spoke privately with ASPI, estimated that roughly 75% of the mosques still standing had either been padlocked shut and had no worshippers visiting at key prayer times or had been converted into other uses. A separate recent visitor to Kashgar city told us that ‘virtually all’ of the mosques in the ‘old city’ had been closed and that a limited number had been converted into cafes.
Although other religious minorities aren’t the focus of our report, we also checked several Christian churches and Buddhist temples across Xinjiang and found that none of those sampled had been damaged or destroyed. This contrasts with the high number of damaged and destroyed mosques across the region, along with the widespread ‘rectification’ of many religious sites in other parts of China.21


More on https://www.aspi.org.au/report/cultural-erasure
 

rott

SENIOR MEMBER
May 3, 2013
7,150
-10
14,746
Country
China
Location
China
What’s the problem?

The Chinese Government has embarked on a systematic and intentional campaign to rewrite the cultural heritage of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). It’s seeking to erode and redefine the culture of the Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking communities—stripping away any Islamic, transnational or autonomous elements—in order to render those indigenous cultural traditions subservient to the ‘Chinese nation’.

Using satellite imagery, we estimate that approximately 16,000 mosques in Xinjiang (65% of the total) have been destroyed or damaged as a result of government policies, mostly since 2017. An estimated 8,500 have been demolished outright, and, for the most part, the land on which those razed mosques once sat remains vacant. A further 30% of important Islamic sacred sites (shrines, cemeteries and pilgrimage routes, including many protected under Chinese law) have been demolished across Xinjiang, mostly since 2017, and an additional 28% have been damaged or altered in some way.

Alongside other coercive efforts to re-engineer Uyghur social and cultural life by transforming or eliminating Uyghurs’ language, music, homes and even diets,1 the Chinese Government’s policies are actively erasing and altering key elements of their tangible cultural heritage.

Many international organisations and foreign governments have turned a blind eye. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) have remained silent in the face of mounting evidence of cultural destruction in Xinjiang. Muslim-majority countries, in particular, have failed to challenge the Chinese Government over its efforts to domesticate, sinicise and separate Uyghur culture from the wider Islamic world.
What’s the solution?

The Chinese Government must abide by Article 4 of China’s Constitution and allow the indigenous communities of Xinjiang to preserve their own cultural heritage and uphold the freedom of religious belief outlined in Article 36. It must abide by the autonomous rights of minority communities to protect their own cultural heritage under the 1984 Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy.

UNESCO and ICOMOS should immediately investigate the state of Uyghur and Islamic cultural heritage in Xinjiang and, if the Chinese Government is found to be in violation of the spirit of both organisations, it should be appropriately sanctioned.

Governments throughout the world must speak out and pressure the Chinese Government to end its campaign of cultural erasure in Xinjiang, and consider sanctions or even the boycotting of major cultural events held in China, including sporting events such as the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

The UN must act on the September 2020 recommendation by a global coalition of 321 civil society groups from 60 countries to urgently create an independent international mechanism to address the Chinese Government’s human rights violations, including in Xinjiang.

Executive summary

Under President Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has adopted a more interventionist approach to nation building along China’s ethnic periphery. Indigenous non-Han cultures, which are considered backward, uncivilised and now potentially dangerous by CCP leaders, must yield to the Han normative centre in the name of an ostensibly unmarked ‘Chinese’ (中华) culture.3

The deliberate erasure of tangible elements of indigenous Uyghur and Islamic culture in Xinjiang appears to be a centrally driven yet locally implemented policy, the ultimate aim of which is the ‘sinicisation’ (中国化) of indigenous cultures, and ultimately, the complete ‘transformation’ (转化) of the Uyghur community’s thoughts and behaviour.

In work for this report, we sought to quantify the extent of the erasure and alteration of tangible indigenous cultural heritage in Xinjiang through the creation of two new datasets recording:

  • demolition of or damage to mosques; and
  • demolition of or damage to important religious–cultural sites, including shrines (mazars), cemeteries and pilgrimage routes.
With both the datasets, we sought to compare the situation before and after early 2017, when the Chinese Government embarked on its new campaign of repression and ‘re-education’ across Xinjiang.

Media and non-government organisation reports have unearthed individual examples of the deliberate destruction of mosques and culturally significant sites in recent years.4 Our analysis found that such destruction is likely to be more widespread than reported, and that an estimated one in three mosques in Xinjiang has been demolished, mostly since 2017.

This equates to roughly 8,450 mosques (±4%) destroyed across Xinjiang, and a further estimated 7,550 mosques (±3.95%) have been damaged or ‘rectified’ to remove Islamic-style architecture and symbols. Cultural destruction often masquerades as restoration or renovation work in Xinjiang. Despite repeated claims that Xinjiang has more than 24,000 mosques5 and that the Chinese Government is ‘committed to protecting its citizens’ freedom of religious belief while respecting and protecting religious cultures’,6 we estimate that there are currently fewer than 15,500 mosques in Xinjiang (including more than 7,500 that have been damaged to some extent). This is the lowest number since the Cultural Revolution, when fewer than 3,000 mosques remained (Figure 1).


Figure 1: The number of mosques in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region since its founding



Note: The estimates from our research are included as the 2020 datapoint. Mosques that have been damaged but not destroyed are shown in orange. Source: Li Xiaoxia (李晓霞), ‘Analysis on the quantity change and management policy of Xinjiang mosques’ (新疆清真寺的数量变化及管理政策分析), Sociology of Ethnicity (民族社会学研究通讯), vol. 164 (2018), p. 40, online; and ASPI analysis.

Mosques across Xinjiang were rebuilt following the Cultural Revolution, and some were significantly renovated between 2012 and 2016, including by the construction of Arab- and Islamic-style domes and minarets. However, immediately after, beginning in 2016, government authorities embarked on a systematic campaign to ‘rectify’ and in many cases outright demolish mosques.

Areas visited by large numbers of tourists are an exception to this trend in the rest of Xinjiang: in the regional capital, Urumqi, and in the city of Kashgar, almost all mosques remain structurally intact.

Most of the sites where mosques were demolished haven’t been rebuilt or repurposed and remain vacant. We present three case studies (on the renovation and demolition of mosques in northern Xinjiang, the land use of demolished mosques, and the destruction of the Grand Mosque of Kargilik) to highlight the impacts of this process of erasure.

Besides mosques, Chinese Government authorities have also desecrated important sacred shrines, cemeteries and pilgrimage sites. Our data and analysis suggest that 30% of those sacred sites have been demolished, mostly since 2017. An additional 27.8% have been damaged in some way. In total, 17.4% of sites protected under Chinese law have been destroyed, and 61.8% of unprotected sites have been damaged or destroyed. We present two case studies (the destruction of the ancient pilgrimage route of Ordam Mazar and of Aksu’s sacred cemeteries) to show in detail the impact on sacred spaces.
@beijingwalker @cgy
 

atya

SENIOR MEMBER
Mar 29, 2010
1,294
0
1,950
What’s the problem?

The Chinese Government has embarked on a systematic and intentional campaign to rewrite the cultural heritage of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). It’s seeking to erode and redefine the culture of the Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking communities—stripping away any Islamic, transnational or autonomous elements—in order to render those indigenous cultural traditions subservient to the ‘Chinese nation’.

Using satellite imagery, we estimate that approximately 16,000 mosques in Xinjiang (65% of the total) have been destroyed or damaged as a result of government policies, mostly since 2017. An estimated 8,500 have been demolished outright, and, for the most part, the land on which those razed mosques once sat remains vacant. A further 30% of important Islamic sacred sites (shrines, cemeteries and pilgrimage routes, including many protected under Chinese law) have been demolished across Xinjiang, mostly since 2017, and an additional 28% have been damaged or altered in some way.

Alongside other coercive efforts to re-engineer Uyghur social and cultural life by transforming or eliminating Uyghurs’ language, music, homes and even diets,1 the Chinese Government’s policies are actively erasing and altering key elements of their tangible cultural heritage.

Many international organisations and foreign governments have turned a blind eye. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) have remained silent in the face of mounting evidence of cultural destruction in Xinjiang. Muslim-majority countries, in particular, have failed to challenge the Chinese Government over its efforts to domesticate, sinicise and separate Uyghur culture from the wider Islamic world.
What’s the solution?

The Chinese Government must abide by Article 4 of China’s Constitution and allow the indigenous communities of Xinjiang to preserve their own cultural heritage and uphold the freedom of religious belief outlined in Article 36. It must abide by the autonomous rights of minority communities to protect their own cultural heritage under the 1984 Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy.

UNESCO and ICOMOS should immediately investigate the state of Uyghur and Islamic cultural heritage in Xinjiang and, if the Chinese Government is found to be in violation of the spirit of both organisations, it should be appropriately sanctioned.

Governments throughout the world must speak out and pressure the Chinese Government to end its campaign of cultural erasure in Xinjiang, and consider sanctions or even the boycotting of major cultural events held in China, including sporting events such as the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

The UN must act on the September 2020 recommendation by a global coalition of 321 civil society groups from 60 countries to urgently create an independent international mechanism to address the Chinese Government’s human rights violations, including in Xinjiang.

Executive summary

Under President Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has adopted a more interventionist approach to nation building along China’s ethnic periphery. Indigenous non-Han cultures, which are considered backward, uncivilised and now potentially dangerous by CCP leaders, must yield to the Han normative centre in the name of an ostensibly unmarked ‘Chinese’ (中华) culture.3

The deliberate erasure of tangible elements of indigenous Uyghur and Islamic culture in Xinjiang appears to be a centrally driven yet locally implemented policy, the ultimate aim of which is the ‘sinicisation’ (中国化) of indigenous cultures, and ultimately, the complete ‘transformation’ (转化) of the Uyghur community’s thoughts and behaviour.

In work for this report, we sought to quantify the extent of the erasure and alteration of tangible indigenous cultural heritage in Xinjiang through the creation of two new datasets recording:

  • demolition of or damage to mosques; and
  • demolition of or damage to important religious–cultural sites, including shrines (mazars), cemeteries and pilgrimage routes.
With both the datasets, we sought to compare the situation before and after early 2017, when the Chinese Government embarked on its new campaign of repression and ‘re-education’ across Xinjiang.

Media and non-government organisation reports have unearthed individual examples of the deliberate destruction of mosques and culturally significant sites in recent years.4 Our analysis found that such destruction is likely to be more widespread than reported, and that an estimated one in three mosques in Xinjiang has been demolished, mostly since 2017.

This equates to roughly 8,450 mosques (±4%) destroyed across Xinjiang, and a further estimated 7,550 mosques (±3.95%) have been damaged or ‘rectified’ to remove Islamic-style architecture and symbols. Cultural destruction often masquerades as restoration or renovation work in Xinjiang. Despite repeated claims that Xinjiang has more than 24,000 mosques5 and that the Chinese Government is ‘committed to protecting its citizens’ freedom of religious belief while respecting and protecting religious cultures’,6 we estimate that there are currently fewer than 15,500 mosques in Xinjiang (including more than 7,500 that have been damaged to some extent). This is the lowest number since the Cultural Revolution, when fewer than 3,000 mosques remained (Figure 1).


Figure 1: The number of mosques in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region since its founding



Note: The estimates from our research are included as the 2020 datapoint. Mosques that have been damaged but not destroyed are shown in orange. Source: Li Xiaoxia (李晓霞), ‘Analysis on the quantity change and management policy of Xinjiang mosques’ (新疆清真寺的数量变化及管理政策分析), Sociology of Ethnicity (民族社会学研究通讯), vol. 164 (2018), p. 40, online; and ASPI analysis.

Mosques across Xinjiang were rebuilt following the Cultural Revolution, and some were significantly renovated between 2012 and 2016, including by the construction of Arab- and Islamic-style domes and minarets. However, immediately after, beginning in 2016, government authorities embarked on a systematic campaign to ‘rectify’ and in many cases outright demolish mosques.

Areas visited by large numbers of tourists are an exception to this trend in the rest of Xinjiang: in the regional capital, Urumqi, and in the city of Kashgar, almost all mosques remain structurally intact.

Most of the sites where mosques were demolished haven’t been rebuilt or repurposed and remain vacant. We present three case studies (on the renovation and demolition of mosques in northern Xinjiang, the land use of demolished mosques, and the destruction of the Grand Mosque of Kargilik) to highlight the impacts of this process of erasure.

Besides mosques, Chinese Government authorities have also desecrated important sacred shrines, cemeteries and pilgrimage sites. Our data and analysis suggest that 30% of those sacred sites have been demolished, mostly since 2017. An additional 27.8% have been damaged in some way. In total, 17.4% of sites protected under Chinese law have been destroyed, and 61.8% of unprotected sites have been damaged or destroyed. We present two case studies (the destruction of the ancient pilgrimage route of Ordam Mazar and of Aksu’s sacred cemeteries) to show in detail the impact on sacred spaces.
I'm sorry but the number itself is suspicious. I'm pretty sure we don't have 16,000 mosques in a single province of Pakistan.
 

Krptonite

FULL MEMBER
Jun 5, 2018
739
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Country
India
Location
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Methodology
The Chinese Government’s 2004 Economic Census identified more than 72,000 officially registered religious sites across China, including more than 24,000 mosques in Xinjiang.8 Given the lack of access to Xinjiang and the sheer number of sites, we used satellite imagery to build a new dataset of pre-2017 mosques and sacred sites.
We found the precise coordinates of more than 900 sites before the 2017 crackdown, including 533 mosques and 382 shrines and other sacred sites.
Each of those sites was then cross-referenced against recent (2019–2020) satellite imagery and categorised as destroyed, significantly damaged, slightly damaged or undamaged. In most cases, significant damage relates to part of the site being destroyed or to Islamic-style architecture (such as domes and minarets) being removed.
We then used a sample-based methodology to make statistically robust estimates of the region-wide rates of destruction by cross-referencing it to data from the 2004 Economic Census, by prefecture.9
For prefectures for which we had a sample of more than 2.5% of mosques, the prefecture-wide destruction and damage rates were extrapolated directly from the observed sites in our sample.
The rate of destruction in prefectures that were undersampled (having less than 2.5% of all mosques located) was estimated by averaging the observed prefectural rate of destruction and the region-wide rate (excluding the regional capital, Urumqi). We estimated the total number of mosques destroyed and damaged by combining those prefectural-level extrapolations.
This analysis is only able to determine demolition or other visible structural changes to the sites. Based on our sample, the razing of mosques appears to have been carried out broadly across Xinjiang, and neither urban nor rural mosques were more likely to be damaged or demolished.
Urumqi and the tourist city of Kashgar are outliers where most mosque buildings remain visibly intact.
Those cities are frequented by domestic and international visitors and serve to conceal the broader destruction of Uyghur culture while curating the image of Xinjiang as a site of ‘cultural integration’ and ‘inter-ethnic mingling’.10
For more details on how our calculations were done and how to access the raw data, see the appendix to this report.

Results and case studies
Mosques
In total, we located and analysed a sample of 533 mosques across Xinjiang, including 129 from Urumqi. Of those mosques, 170 were destroyed (31.9%), 175 were damaged (32.8%) and 188 remained undamaged (35.3%). Urumqi has only 1.4% of Xinjiang’s mosques, despite representing 24% of our sample, and was an outlier that showed lower rates of mosque demolition (17% versus an average of 36% in other prefectures). Of the 404 mosques we sampled in other parts of Xinjiang, 148 were destroyed (36.6%), 152 were damaged (37.6%) and 104 were undamaged (25.8%). Figure 2 summarises the percentages of sampled mosques destroyed or damaged, by prefecture.
Figure 2: Percentage of sampled mosques that are damaged or destroyed, by prefecture, XUAR

Note: Territorial borders shown on maps in this report do not indicate acceptance by ASPI, in general they attempt to show current territorial control and not claims from any country. Source: ASPI ICPC.
The destruction of mosques appears to be correlated with the value authorities place on a region’s tourist potential; for example, Urumqi has a low rate of demolition, followed by the major tourist sites like Kashgar.11 Yet, it should be noted, both cities have undergone and continue to undergo significant urban development, which has resulted in the demolition or ‘renovation’ of part of Kashgar’s old city and the Uyghur-dominated Tengritagh and Saybagh districts of Urumqi.12
Extrapolating those figures on a prefectural level from official statistics allowed us to estimate the full number of destroyed and damaged mosques in Xinjiang. We found that across the XUAR approximately 16,000 mosques have been damaged or destroyed and 8,450 have been entirely demolished. The 95% confidence range of our regional findings is ±4% for the estimates of demolished, destroyed and undamaged mosque numbers. The full prefectural breakdown is shown in Table 1 and Figure 3.
Table 1: Full results showing the prefectural breakdown of mosques in Xinjiang, our sampling data and our estimates of damaged numbers


Note: In this table XPCC refers to the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (Bingtuan), a government entity distinct to Xinjiang’s regional government that directly administers large areas of the XUAR. Source: ASPI ICPC.
Figure 3: The estimated number of mosques destroyed or damaged in each prefecture of the XUAR

Note: Red dots represent the estimated number of destroyed mosques, orange represents the estimated number of damaged mosques. The number written shows these two combined. For full details see Table 1. Source: ASPI ICPC.
Officials from the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have repeatedly claimed that Xinjiang has more than 24,000 mosques and cite that as evidence of the state’s respect for religious freedom.13
However, our analysis shows that in most prefectures a majority of mosques and other sites of Islamic worship are being destroyed or transformed in ways that erode their religious and cultural significance.
In June 2015, Yang Weiwei, a researcher at the official CCP school in the northern prefecture of Altay, clearly articulated one of the perceived threats that authorities believe mosques pose to social stability in Xinjiang.14 Without providing evidence, she asserted that ‘the number of mosques in Xinjiang far exceeds the needs of normal religious activities,’ and instead provide venues for separatists and extremists to proselytise. The Islamic faith of Uyghurs in southern Xinjiang, she claimed, is propelling society away from traditional secularism towards conservatism, and challenging CCP rule. ‘In southern Xinjiang, the capacities of the party’s grassroot organs are hampered, but the role of mosques [is] constantly being strengthened,’ she warned.15
Her report specifically recommended that mosques be demolished, saying that only one mosque should exist in each administrative unit, that their design should adhere to strict unified standards (implying the removal of Islamic and Arab architecture), and that their opening hours should be limited to a single day every week and holidays.16
That recommendation doesn’t appear to be restricted to Altay Prefecture. Our evidence suggests the demolition and ‘rectification’ of mosques is more severe in other prefectures in Xinjiang, 17 of which (out of the 19 that we recorded) have higher rates of mosque demolition than Altay.
Xinjiang’s latest ‘mosque rectification’ (清真寺整改) campaign, which was conducted under the guise of improving public services and safety, began in 2016 and gathered pace under the new Xinjiang Party Secretary, Chen Quanguo.17 Local authorities were responding in part to Xi Jinping’s call for the ‘sinification’ (中国化) and the ‘deradicalisation’ (去极端化) of religion in Xinjiang.18 The vast majority of mosques in our sample that remained undamaged had no existing visible Islamic architectural features and didn’t need modification to adhere to the strict standards set out by the regional ‘rectification’ campaign.
Additionally, media reports suggest that a number of mosques that remain physically intact (and therefore would be classified as undamaged in our dataset) have been secularised or converted into commercial or civic spaces, including cafe-bars19 and even public toilets.20 We aren’t able to quantify this practice using our methodology.
However, visitors to the region since 2017, who saw several still-standing mosques and spoke privately with ASPI, estimated that roughly 75% of the mosques still standing had either been padlocked shut and had no worshippers visiting at key prayer times or had been converted into other uses. A separate recent visitor to Kashgar city told us that ‘virtually all’ of the mosques in the ‘old city’ had been closed and that a limited number had been converted into cafes.
Although other religious minorities aren’t the focus of our report, we also checked several Christian churches and Buddhist temples across Xinjiang and found that none of those sampled had been damaged or destroyed. This contrasts with the high number of damaged and destroyed mosques across the region, along with the widespread ‘rectification’ of many religious sites in other parts of China.21


More on https://www.aspi.org.au/report/cultural-erasure
An indian quoting a western sources about something bad in China. :cheesy:

Might as well get the common questions out of the way, why are you doing false propaganda against brotherly Chinese on this site? That's a big no-no. Since you're an Indian, must be green from being all jelly.
 

Chhatrapati

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I'm sorry but the number itself is suspicious. I'm pretty sure we don't have 16,000 mosques in a single province of Pakistan.
You probably are wrong, the city of Bangalore in India have around 1800 mosques. That's not even a Muslim majority place.
 

N.Siddiqui

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China has no state religion, they don't want any religion be it Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism....

So they destroy Churches, Temples, Synagogues...Mosques...and the common denominator is not mosque...it is any religion. The communist party of China don't want any religion superseding the Communist party of China or for that matter the communist party manifesto...

 
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masterchief_mirza

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You probably are wrong, the city of Bangalore in India have around 1800 mosques. That's not even a Muslim majority place.
Getting desperate I see.

China clamps down on all religions equally (given the opportunity, they'd clamp down on hindutva the most!). It is in a sense truly secular. India still needs to Google the meaning of this word.

Btw. Thread title should read:

"Approximately 50-100 members of Bihar regiment destroyed or damaged due to government policies"
 

Goenitz

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So they destroy Churches, Temples, Synagogues...Mosques...so the common denominator is not mosque...it is any religion. The communist party of China want don't want any religion superseding the Communist party of China of for that matter the communist party manifesto...
That is true.. that is why they don't like fasting. As it give Muslim excuse so work less. A common practice in muslim world specially, but more rewarding in former case.
I hope Chinese haven't destroyed many mosques, especially the historic ones. It was all backlash of Uighur-non-Uighur clash and west attempt to raise armed struggle in China (like everywhere else) through Uighur proxy... But China, I hope will normalise things for muslims.
Mainly because, if it want to be open with Muslim world like Gulf, Iran, Paksitan etc so to capture its market they need to adapt.. Like selling Halal Chinese goods, respecting muslim values. etc.

So with time, when China will expand its influence, I think they will learn. So key is the interaction.
@atya
I think we have more than 200k mosques. As just registered madrassas supersede 30K+.
 

Musings

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@masterchief_mirza @Rafi @Pan-Islamic-Pakistan @Verve @PAKISTANFOREVER

Here we have an indian concerned about Muslims in China.

Yet again a thread has been started by a little Indian to troll. If he was so concerned about Muslims - he would start in his own nation where Muslims are regularly persecuted and slaughtered for eating a beefburger. A leader that was banned entry from the USA for slaughtering Muslims. A nation where men and women get butchered for being a different caste?
I find it fascinating the obsession that they have with the destruction of Muslamic mosques in China and the reason and desire to discuss on here? The hunt first thing to find a bad China or Pakistan piece of news and host it on here with no real intent to discuss the issue but just to troll. This is a common feature of people that can be put in a group known as lowest form of human.
I dont find the source reliable and its not from the Indian source so i am really surprised.
 

terry5

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I believe the guardian newspaper
Most honest newspaper in the world and I believe the Chinese are killing Muslims brainwashing them to chant mao mao rubbish and they’ve destroyed those mosques

might get me banned but I hope India defeats China and this coming from me a Kashmiri with family under occupation by Indian oppressors
 

Mamluk

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I believe the guardian newspaper
Most honest newspaper in the world and I believe the Chinese are killing Muslims brainwashing them to chant mao mao rubbish and they’ve destroyed those mosques

might get me banned but I hope India defeats China and this coming from me a Kashmiri with family under occupation by Indian oppressors
Do you believe these newspapers when they say we are oppressing people in Balochistan?
 

UKBengali

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Saying China clamps down on all religions is no excuse for China to mass imprison Uighurs for daring to have a culture of their own.

China has shown itself to be a brutal country that has no respect for it's minorities if they want to follow their own ancestral traditions.
 

redtom

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This is fake news. Because according to the West, CCP prohibits religion, there is no mosque in Xinjiang. So it is impossible to destroy the mosque.8-)8-)8-)
 
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