Hundreds of Muslims in western China are engaged in a standoff with authorities to prevent their mosque from being demolished.
Officials said the newly completed Weizhou Grand Mosque in Ningxia had not been given proper building permits. But worshippers refused to back down – one resident said they “won’t let the government touch the mosque”.
China is home to some 23 million Muslims, and Islam has been prominent in Ningxia province for centuries.
But rights groups say there is increasing official hostility towards Muslims in China, and foreign religious influences in particular.
The mosque, which has several soaring minarets and domes, is built in a Middle Eastern style.
Officials had on 3 August posted a notice that the mosque would be “forcibly demolished” as it had not been granted the necessary planning and construction permits.
Many questioned why authorities did not stop construction of the mosque, which took two years to complete, if it had not been granted relevant permits, according to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper.
Protests were held outside the mosque on Thursday and continued into Friday, say the reports. One resident said talks between the Hui community and the government had reached an impasse.