BEIJING: Chinese state media has defended the planned demolition of a in the country’s north west and urged officials to stay firm on the matter, saying that no religion is bigger than the law even as thousands of ethnic Hui Muslims continued sit-in protests against the plan.

Protesters thwarted attempts by officials on Thursday to demolish parts of the Weizhou Grand Mosque in Ningxia Hui autonomous region for alleged violations during its recent renovation. The sit-in continued towards the weekend as the protesters stayed put in the mosque. “The officials have not given us a clear answer. And we plan to carry on until the government makes it clear that it won’t make any changes to the mosque,” the Hong Kong-based quoted a protester as saying.

Chinese officials say the mosque authorities which carried out a renovation in 2015 made it look like a typical mosque from the West Asia, and they want its “Arab style” domes to be replaced with Chinese style “pagodas”. This was deemed unacceptable by most members of the community.

While there was no official reaction yet to the protests by Hui Muslim community, state media said no religion can be above the law. “All religious activities should abide by the country’s laws and all religions shall be treated equally,”op-ed in state-run Global Times said, adding, “to effectively solve the issue, local authorities need to stick to the law. On Friday, the local county head had promised to consider a reconstruction plan by mosque’s management and not take action until a new plan was approved.
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