The Nagiying mosque in southern China's Yunnan Province is at risk of demolition due to what authorities say is a 2020 court ruling that expansion work was illegal.

Located in the Muslim-majority province of Yunnan which, of course, is dominated by Islamic manifestations, including mosques, the mosque was built in the 13th century AD and is now a center of worship and education for the Hui Muslim minority in the province.

China's ruling Communist Party imposes restrictions on manifestations of religiosity of any kind, and these restrictions have escalated recently, with the country's leader Xi Jinping introducing the concept of "religion conservation" by making allegiance solely to state politics.

The mosque has been expanded over the years, and in 2019 the original building was classified as a protected cultural heritage, but it is now threatened with demolition due to a court ruling dating back to 2020 on the grounds that the expansion work was illegal.

In an effort to prevent the demolition of the mosque, hundreds of Chinese Muslims gathered in front of the mosque to prevent its demolition, and the demonstrations turned into clashes between riot police and demonstrators, after which police arrested dozens.

The "Shabakat" program (2023/5/30) monitored part of the comments of tweeters on the matter, including what Mohammed Al-Khalidi wrote, "China and India have gone too far in their jealousy, sectarianism and racism, and it is unfortunate that Arab and Islamic governments do not object, even verbally, as economic interests take priority!"

Cultural erasure

"After the erasure of mosques from East Turkestan, the focus of the Chinese Communist Party shifts to Yunnan Province, cultural erasure exists in China," wrote Shreya Bharti.

As for Saeed Eid, he tells his experience with the mosque through a tweet in which he wrote, "It is not just a mosque, this is a center for teaching fundamentals of religion, a mosque that can accommodate 3,<> worshipers, a historical mosque, Friday prayers you feel that you are in the Grand Mosque in Mecca from the amount of different nationalities that pray next to you, I experienced this feeling, and I swear to God a great feeling of pride."

"Religion cannot be above the law, this mosque was built on land that does not belong to Muslims, this is illegal and should be demolished, and in China Muslims are very dominant and often bully the Han people," says Tim.

In a similar incident in 2018, thousands of Hui Muslims in Ningxia, northwest of the country, staged a three-day sit-in to prevent the authorities from demolishing a newly built mosque, and the local government then retracted the demolition of the mosque, but later replaced the mosque's domes and minarets with traditional Chinese towers.

Hui's nationality in Yunnan province is one of the last to face government restrictions because it is in a remote area, the region is ethnically and culturally diverse, and the people of this nationality are politically flexible and do not try to oppose the policies of the ruling party.

Hui's population of about 9 million people dates back to the late Tang Dynasty in the seventh century.