Beijing: In an apparent move to appease
its 20-million-strong Muslim minority, Communist China plans
to build mosques across the country to meet their religious
Authorities are addressing a lack of religious
facilities for millions of Muslims who have moved to coastal
cities in search of jobs and livelihood, a senior official at
the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) said.
A large number of Muslims have migrated to cities from
inland regions since 1978 leading to a growing demand for
religious facilities, primarily more mosques, greater
availability of Islamic food and special graveyards, Deputy
Director of the Islamic Department of the SARA Ma Jin was
quoted as saying by the state-run China Daily.
By 2008, about three million Muslims, or more than 10
per cent of the country`s total Muslim population, had
migrated from rural areas in traditional Muslim-concentrated
western provinces to coastal cities, according to the Annual
Report on China`s Religions in 2009.
More than 75 per cent of Muslim migrants left their
hometowns in the hope of "better payment" and prospects, it
China has a population of about 20 million Muslims who
were mostly confined to the two region. While Hui Muslims
estimated to be about 10 million confined to Linxia in China`s
Gansu province, another 10 million Uyghurs of Turkish origin
reside in volatile Xinjiang province.
Xinjiang witnessed largescale riots last year between
Uyghurs and Han Chinese in which hundreds were killed.
Some coastal provinces, especially the top three in
terms of the migrant Muslim population, Guangdong, Zhejiang
and Fujian, found themselves ill-prepared to cope with the
increasing need for religious facilities.
Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong province, has
only four mosques to cater for about 9,800 permanent Muslim
residents and another 25,000-40,000 temporary Muslim
Construction of the last mosque, with a seating
capacity of about 5,000 and situated near the Muslim Sages
Tomb, was completed just ahead of the Asian Games which opened
in early November in Guangzhou.
Ma said some Muslims have to do their religious
service outside crowded mosques in some coastal cities,
causing not only traffic jams but also misunderstanding
between Muslims and other people.
Yiwu, a city in Zhejiang province famous for trading
small commodities, has about 5,000 business people from the
Middle East each year. "It has transformed a factory building
into a temporary mosque for the Muslims," Ma said.
He said that governments at all levels have allocated
at least USD 11 million to build new mosques and repair
dilapidated ones over the past 10 years.