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China has expanded the crackdown on its Muslim minority outside the Xinjing region, making its first such effort following international attention on the country’s Uyghur population.
“While the world is fixated on Gaza, a real crime against Muslims is occurring in China, executed by the Communist Party,” Alan Mendoza, co-founder and executive director of the Henry Jackson Society, told Fox News Digital.
“Under the guise of ‘consolidation’ of mosques, the CCP is closing, destroying and repurposing Muslim places of worship to suit its campaign of the ‘Sinicization’ of Islam, by which they mean its repression,” Mendoza explained. “Yet, in contrast to the protests seen against Israel’s justified campaign against Hamas terrorism, the world is silent when it comes to China’s assault on Muslim human rights.”
The world has seen global demonstrations seeking to condemn Israel for its operations in the Gaza Strip as the Israel Defense Forces attempt to wipe out Hamas following the terrorist attack on Oct. 7. Critics, including U.S. representatives such as the members of “The Squad,” have argued that Israel has disproportionately responded to the attack, with some even going so far as to accuse Israel of carrying out a genocide against the Palestinian people.
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During that time, China has seemingly taken the initiative to expand its own alleged ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population in its country, targeting not just the Uyghur population, but other Muslim groups as well. The operations have so far drawn little criticism, even a week after the publication of a report on the “Mosque consolidation” taking place in some provinces.
Hui Muslim clerics wear masks as they gather in front of China’s national flag before it is raised prior to Eid al-Fitr prayers at the historic Niujie Mosque on May 13, 2021 in Beijing. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
“No mystery why the international community is silent on China’s genocide and other crimes against humanity: China’s Communist Party is the world’s most successful intimidator,” Gordon Chang, Gatestone Institute senior fellow and a China expert, told Fox News Digital. “Presidents, prime ministers, and princes cower before Beijing, as do most others. This is a ghastly, disgusting spectacle that just feeds the already inflated sense of self-importance of arrogant Chinese leaders.”
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Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators protest outside the Israeli Embassy on Oct. 9, 2023 in London. (Photo by Leila Dougan/Gallo Images via Getty Images)
In 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the “Sinicization” of religions – or the effort to make religion “more Chinese” – initiating a crackdown that has largely concentrated on the western region of Xinjiang, home to more than 11 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.
The specific measure is called “Mosque consolidation,” which the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) referenced in a 2018 document outlining the various approaches to “Sinizication.”
This picture taken on July 14, 2023, shows a Uyghur man outside the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar city in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region. (Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images)
China counts over 20 million Muslims in its country, which is officially atheist but claims to practice freedom of religion, according to the BBC.
A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released last week claimed that Chinese authorities have “significantly” reduced the number of closed mosques in the northern Ningxia region as well as the Gansu province. The provinces are home to the Hui Muslims, or non-Asian Muslim populations, in China.
Hui Muslim men wear masks gather during Eid al-Fitr prayers at the historic Niujie Mosque on May 13, 2021 in Beijing. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
In the document, allegedly leaked to the Uyghur Tribunal in London in Sept. 2021, the CCP instructed state agencies throughout the country to “strengthen the standardized management of construction, renovation and expansion of Islamic religious venues.”
HRW alleges that China has instead tried “persuading” Hui Muslims to “redirect their loyalty toward the CCP” using threats of school probation and unemployment. The destruction or “consolidation” of mosques aims to discourage the Muslim population from praying and gathering.
Protesters during a pro-Palestinian demonstration in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. (Nathan Howard/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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“The Chinese government is not ‘consolidating’ mosques as it claims, but closing many down in violation of religious freedom,” wrote Maya Wang, the acting China director HRW.
“The Chinese government’s closure, destruction, and repurposing of mosques is part of a systematic effort to curb the practice of Islam in China,” she added.
A woman passes an old disused mosque in Artux, northwestern China’s Xinjiang region July 19, 2023. (Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images)
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has claimed that China has damaged or destroyed around two-thirds of mosques in Ningxia and Gansu since 2017.
“After removing the minarets and domes, local governments would start removing things that are essential to religious activities, such as ablution halls and preacher’s podiums,” Ma Ju, a U.S.-based Hui Muslim activist, told HRW.
A United Nations report last year found China may have committed “crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang, including through its construction of a network of extrajudicial internment camps believed to have held at least 1 million Uyghurs, Huis, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz.
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Pro-Palestinian demonstrators light flares during a protest near the Israeli Consulate as the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues, in Istanbul Oct. 18, 2023. (REUTERS/Dilara Senkaya)
In response to an Associated Press request for comment, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Beijing attaches great importance to the protection and repair of mosques, and safeguards the normal religious needs of believers.
“The relevant organizations should abandon their ideological bias against China and stop using religious issues to engage in political manipulation and smear China’s image” the ministry said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Peter Aitken is a Fox News Digital reporter with a focus on national and global news.