Wary of Islam, China Tightens a Vise of RulesThe largest Mosque in China. Photo courtesy of www.broadstreet.blogspot.com
* By EDWARD WONG
Published: October 18, 2008
KHOTAN, China – The grand mosque that draws thousands of Muslims each week
in this oasis town has all the usual trappings of piety: dusty wool carpets
on which to kneel in prayer, a row of turbans and skullcaps for men without
headwear, a wall niche facing the holy city of Mecca in the Arabian desert.
Khotan’s mosque draws thousands of Muslims each week. In Kashgar, Uighurs
prepared to break their daily fast during Ramadan last month.
But large signs posted by the front door list edicts that are more Communist
Party decrees than Koranic doctrines.
The imam’s sermon at Friday Prayer must run no longer than a half-hour, the
rules say. Prayer in public areas outside the mosque is forbidden. Residents
of Khotan are not allowed to worship at mosques outside of town.
One rule on the wall says that government workers and nonreligious people
may not be “forced” to attend services at the mosque – a generous wording of
a law that prohibits government workers and Communist Party members from
going at all.
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