Anticorruption investigators have detained an official in charge of religious affairs in a part of northwest China rocked last year by a mass protest against the demolition of a mosque . Gao Zhenyu, 61, head of the Religious and Ethnic Affairs Commission in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, was under investigation for alleged “serious violations of law and discipline”, the Communist Party’s anticorruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said on Monday. A source said Gao, who was also a Standing Committee member of the Ningxia People’s Political Consultative Conference, was purged for alleged corruption and his handling of a mass protest against the proposed demolition of Weizhou’s grand mosque in August. How China is trying to impose Islam with Chinese characteristics in the Hui Muslim heartland Thousands of ethnic Hui Muslims rallied in the city , forcing the government to drop the order to tear down the building. The authorities later adopted a “rectification plan” to make it “less Arabic” in style. The source said investigators sent by Beijing found Gao’s handling of the protests unacceptable. “The inspection team sent by Beijing clearly were not satisfied with how Ningxia handled the matter and [they thought] Gao and his team should have stood firm on political discipline,” the source said. Gao is understood to be the first religious affairs official to come under investigation for corruption this year. China is facing international criticism over its religious policies, especially its treatment of Muslims in western regions such as Xinjiang and Ningxia. China calls Xinjiang camps training centres, but government’s own documents say otherwise, researcher finds According to earlier reports by state news agency Xinhua, the inspectors from Beijing spent three months in Ningxia earlier this year, concluding that party and government leaders in Ningxia “strayed from the party’s leadership and political discipline in religious matters”. Gao, an ethic Hui, is one of about a dozen of officials in Ningxia under investigation, including the region’s national security chief Wang Xiaoping. Wang and Gao were colleagues in the region’s public security department about 10 years ago. Gao was born in Heilongjiang province in China’s northeast and began his political career as a prosecutor in Ningxia after serving in the People’s Liberation Army for six years in the 1980s. He was promoted to political commissar of Ningxia’s police force in 2009, mainly in charge of the region’s anti-cult operations. He was appointed the commission’s director in January 2018.