Official defends closure as 'in step with Islamic doctrine'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 July, 2009, 12:00am

A senior mainland religious official has defended the controversial closure of mosques in Urumqi last week, saying it was in line with Islamic doctrine.

Despite opposition from Muslim Uygurs, authorities closed mosques across Urumqi last Friday fearing that violence or even riots could erupt as a result of a large gathering.

Several mosques were reopened later in the afternoon when large crowds of Uygur and Hui people gathered for prayers.

'According to Islamic teachings, mosques can be closed in cases of disease, war and instability, and people can pray at home,' Adiljan Haj Kerim, a Uygur and vice-president of the government-sanctioned Chinese Islamic Association, said in Beijing.

He said the move was prompted by concerns for the safety of the people following the riots.

'But we reopened two or three mosques soon afterwards, considering the strong requests of Muslims who wanted to pray at mosques,' he added. He said mosques outside Urumqi were not closed.