We are shocked and taken aback by the news from the Australian think tank that Chinese authorities have demolished thousands of mosques in Xinjiang, in a recent report on human rights violations in the region.
According to the Australian Institute of Strategic Policy (ASPI),based on satellite images, found at least 16,000 mosques destroyed or damaged by Chinese authorities.
This is a very serious information and if it is really executed by the Chinese authorities, then we strongly condemn this criminal act and it will invite the anger of Muslims around the world.
The report revealed most of the destruction took place three years ago with an estimated 8,500 mosques completely destroyed and according to the report, the biggest damage occurred in urban areas, such as Urumqi and Kashgar.
If this information is valid, we demand that the Chinese reveal what is the rationale for the mosques to be demolished.
We demand that a special investigation from the OIC and an international independent body be established and that it should be given access to the area of the mosques involved for investigation.
The information also depicted many other mosques that escaped the operation were forced to demolish the construction of their respective domes or towers. This is also , a very serious and objectionable criminal act. It should move the voices of the leaders of Islamic countries around the world to give a firm response.
There are now less than 15,500 mosques around Xinjiang. If true, it is the lowest number of mosques ever recorded in the region since the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.
We insist that the destruction of the mosque or its destruction without any acceptable reason, implies that it is an encroachment on the religion of Islam and tantamount to declaring war on the religion itself.
We are also shocked by the report of no such action has been taken against Buddhist churches or temples that are also found throughout Xinjiang.
According to ASPI, nearly a third of Islamic holy sites in Xinjiang such as tombs, pilgrimage routes and cemeteries were also victimized as targets of religious denigration
In fact, an AFP survey last year reported the discovery of dozens of cemeteries destroyed, with fragments of corpses and scattered tombstones.
We take note of the statement by the Chinese authorities who insist that the people of Xinjiang are given full freedom to practice their respective religious practices. This statement must be proven because many of the victim’s testimonies state that China’s policy has oppressed Muslims right to religious practices including access to religious education, fasting in Ramadhan and forced marriaged to non Muslim.
We demand that an independent international investigating team be given access to see as many mosque sites and graves as said to have been destroyed.
Reports of more than a million Uyghur Muslims minorities and the Turkic-speaking community in southwest China being have been detained in hundreds of camps, as well as being forced to abandon all religious or cultural beliefs, also need to be investigated thouroughly.
We deplore the policy of “Sinisization” by the Chinese government as a policy to change the characteristics and culture of Muslims so that everything follows the wishes of the Chinese communist system.
The Chinese can not just deny the narrative revealed while independent investigators are blocked from getting information from various victims who want to give their testimonies.
Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid
President of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organizations.