URUMQI - President, China Islamic Association, Abdul Raqib has said that Muslims from Uygur and other ethnic groups were enjoying complete religious freedom and living in harmony in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China as the constitution and law of the land protected rights of the people with religious beliefs.
“The Chinese government always protects freedom of religious beliefs of people in Xinjiang as well as other parts of the country while the constitution and regulations relating to religious affairs protect rights of the people with religious beliefs,” he said while talking to APP Correspondent who visited several mosques, and vocational education and training centers in Urumqi, Kashgar and Hotan in Xinjiang along with a group of foreign journalists.
He informed there were over 24,000 mosques in Xinjiang and all the Muslims were free to offer five times prayers and recite Holy Quran besides observing fasting in the month of Ramazan. Abdul Raqib, also head of Islamic Institute in Urumqi said, the institute spread over 150 acres had a history of 32 years and accommodated over 1,500 students.
He said the religious classes were started in the year 2014 and at present, the students were studying religion, politics and common national language. In the religious classes, the students were studying the Quran, Hadith and other Islamic teachings.
“We provide scholarships, accommodation, and food to students and award diplomas and certificates upon completion of their courses,” he added.
He said around 238 professional clerics were also enrolled for training and they would be sent to other mosques to perform religious duties. About duration of courses, he informed the institute had organized short-term courses as well as a five-year-long graduation program.
About spread of extremism, he said it was because of multiple factors and the government had made a series of measures including vocational education and poverty alleviation programmes to get the people involved in terrorism and extremism back to their normal life. In Kashgar, Imam of historical Etigar Mosque, Muhamit Juma said the Muslims were enjoying religious freedom and performing their religious obligations without any fear.
He informed the mosque was built in the 15th century and recently renovated with the financial assistance from the provincial government. The imam said the five prayers, as well as Juma prayer, were held at the mosque, the largest in the city.
He informed his father, the grand imam of the mosque, was killed by the terrorists in the year 2014 and after then necessary arrangements were made for the security of people coming to offer prayers. In Hotan, Imam of Jamia Mosque, Abul Hassan also shared that all the Muslims in the city were enjoying the freedom of religious beliefs.
He said the local government also provided financial assistance for day to day needs and renovation of the mosque. More than 2,000 faithful attend Juma congregation. Muslims were free to offer daily prayers and observe fasting in Ramazan while Halal meat was available all across the province.