Purge of Mosque Clergy in Xinjiang’s Ghulja Leaves Nobody Left to Conduct CeremoniesJuly 16, 2021
Nearly all Uyghur clergymen from a mosque in a city in northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have been imprisoned, leaving no one in the community who is able to conduct religious ceremonies, said two sources familiar with the current situation in a corner of Xinjiang near Kazakhstan.
Chinese authorities have taken into custody all seven religious leaders from the Tahtiyun Mosque in the Chinese bazaar district of Ghulja (in Chinese, Yining) in the Ili Kazakh (Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture, said a source from outside the area who requested anonymity to speak freely.
Among the seven detained in early 2018 were a khatib (a man who delivers a sermon) Kudrat Qarim (an honorific used for people who can recite the Koran), a muezzin (a man who calls Muslims to prayer from the minaret of a mosque) Ahmatjan, and imam Saydahmat, the source said. They all were sentenced to prison not long afterwards, the person added.
The Tahtiyun Mosque had been under surveillance for nearly two years by an “excessively active” police officer, who even turned the lower floor of the building into a dedicated interrogation room, the source said.
There are now no religious leaders capable of officiating at weddings or funerals, or of overseeing ceremonies in Ghulja, and substitutes who have stepped in to conduct the ceremonies are often not trained to do so, said the source.
When contacted by RFA, the police officer who previously served as deputy chief at the provincial-level Public Security Bureau and later was assigned to oversee surveillance of the Tahtiyun Mosque, confirmed that the seven mosque leaders had been taken into custody in 2018.