Mosques open for Friday prayers after riots in China

URUMQI - All 433 mosques that were closed after last week’s widespread riots here in northwest China opened for the Friday prayers, officials said.

At least 192 people were killed in the riots July 5 in this Chinese provincial capital of Xinjiang.

The mosques were closed at the request of imams due to security reasons, an official in charge of the religious affairs said.

Local residents said the police have tightened security around the mosques, as large numbers of people waited outside the shrines for their Friday prayers.

“More security staff were sent here. Members of the congregation must open their bags for security checks before entering the mosque,” the official said.

After the prayers, people also came out in large numbers to buy their essential commodities in the market.

“The government brought the situation under control soon after the riot. Now social order is restored and we feel safe in the mosques,” said Tayir, only the first name was given.

The ceremony in China’s largest mosque, the Id Kah Mosque, in Kashi City in Xinjiang Province, went smoothly with a heavy police presence. The people entered the mosque through three security checkpoints, as armed police guarded the building until the ceremony was over.

In Yining City, the prayer services proceeded calmly in the 196 mosques.

“According to the doctrines of the Koran, Muslims can perform rituals at home Friday, not necessarily at mosques, if there is social a unrest or war, or (when) their families are sick,” said Abdushukur, the imam of the Baida Mosque.

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