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Thousands of Muslims gathered to prevent authorities from demolishing mosque in China

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BEIJING — Thousands of members of China’s Hui Muslim minority have gathered at the site of a mosque in Weizhou, in northwestern China, in an attempt to block the government authorities from demolishing the building.

The Grand Mosque in Weizhou was completed just last year but authorities say it must be demolished as it lacks the proper building permits.

Videos have emerged online showing hundreds of China’s Hui Muslim minority protesting against a government decision to demolish a mosque, which officials say was built without proper planning approval.

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Protesters told some reporters that the government proposed altering the building to make it look more traditionally Chinese, instead of demolishing it, but that the Muslim community rejected that proposal.

They said the mosque was under construction for over two years — but no authority came down on it.

The drive to demolish the structure is being seen as Beijing’s move to clamp down on religious minorities in the country — be it Christians or Muslims.

The BBC reports that most Hui mosques in the past “had been built in a more Chinese style.”

Officials in Ningxia have been removing elements of Islamic and Arabic architecture from the region’s buildings since earlier this year, in line with a government directive to make foreign religions more ‘Chinese in orientation’.

Agencies

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167 people killed in India monsoon floods

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NEW DELHI — At least 167 people have been killed and more than one lakh people forced to live in relief camps across the Indian state of Kerala after monsoon floods badly hit the state.

While torrential rains, overflowing rivers and a series of landslips have cut off vast swathes of land in the state, the Kochi International Airport has been shut till Aug 26 and Southern Railway and Kochi Metro have suspended their operations.

Tens of thousands of people in the state have been stranded by extensive flooding as the death toll from the torrential monsoon continues to climb, according to officials.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said 167 people have died in the state — more than 100 of them in the last 36 hours — and issued a fresh rain alert for the battered state.

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Rescue efforts have been progressing on a war footing and Mr Vijayan’s office said he had spoken to PM Modi again this morning. Four aircraft and three Coast Guard ships have been brought in to rescue people marooned in areas cut off by vast stretches of water.

The state’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Twitter that 25 boats with members of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were sent to Pathanamthitta, central Kerala, and all the boats, including fishing boats, would be used to expedite rescue operations in flooded areas.

he further warned of a grimmer situation as more rain has been forecast till Saturday. “The Centre has sanctioned more men and material,” Vijayan said after a conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Central leaders.

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