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.
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’.
Russian rocket fails in the mid air, crew lands safely
COSMODROME—Booster rocket carrying a Soyuz spacecraft with a Russian and US astronaut on board headed for the International Space Station failed in mid-air on Thursday, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing.
U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin landed safely without any harm.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, quoted by Interfax, said the problem occurred when the first and second stages of the booster rocket were in the process of separating.
The rocket was launched from the Soviet-era cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. A Reuters reporter who observed the launch from around 1 km away said that it had gone smoothly in its initial stage.
“Search and rescue teams are in the air and heading towards the expected touchdown location for the Soyuz spacecraft returning to Earth carrying two crew members,” NASA said in a statement.