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China has destroyed or damaged thousands of mosques in the sensitive Xinjiang region, claims a report released Friday by an Australian research institute and funded by the US State Department.

It would be another attack by Beijing on the minority ouyghur. According to a report, released Friday, September 25, by an Australian research institute, the China destroyed or damaged thousands of mosques in the sensitive Xinjiang region in the northwest of the country, where Beijing is leading security and ideological campaigns with an iron fist. The report was also funded by the US State Department.

About 16,000 mosques have been destroyed or damaged in recent years in this predominantly Muslim region, a detailed report from the Australian Institute for Strategic Policy (ASPI), a research firm created by the Australian government, attests.

The researchers say they were based on satellite photos and on important “extrapolations”: after analyzing 533 mosques (out of 24,000 officially in Xinjiang), they made calculations according to statistical models.

Most of the destruction has taken place in the past three years and 8,500 mosques have been completely destroyed, the report said. Some others have seen their domes and minarets removed, according to researchers, who estimate the number of mosques still standing in Xinjiang at 15,500.

The study was funded by the US Department of State, specified the ASPI. Washington is strongly opposed to Beijing on many issues and has been at the forefront in recent months in denouncing Chinese policy in Xinjiang.

>> To read: In China, the Uyghurs victims of an imposed birth control policy

Willingness to “sinise”

Long hit by bloody attacks attributed to members of the ethnic Uyghurs, predominantly Muslim, this immense semi-desert territory is the subject of a firm security takeover in the name of the fight against terrorism.

More than a million people, mainly Muslims, were interned there in “camps”, accuse human rights organizations. China claims that these are “vocational training centers”, intended to help the population find employment and thus remove them from religious extremism.

According to testimonials collected by the daily The world, the Chinese state has also undertaken, since 2016, to send Communist Party cadres to monitor the families of the Muslim minority in their privacy. This, in addition to accusations of forced sterilizations.

The Chinese authorities regularly maintain that they want to “sinise” religions. This campaign, carried out in the name of greater control of cults, also aims to fight Islamist movements catalyzing separatist sentiment in Xinjiang.

“This report is only rumor and slander,” reacted at a regular press briefing Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, denouncing the “lack of credibility” of the research firm and “its funding from abroad “.

“The total number of mosques per Muslim capita in Xinjiang is higher than in many Muslim countries,” he protested.

ASPI released another report on Thursday accusing China of strengthening its network of “detention centers” in the region.

With AFP

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