Freedom of religious belief fully protected in Xinjiang: imam

Photo taken on Feb. 21, 2022 shows Memet Jume, an imam and national legislator, studying in his dormitory at Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, southern Xinjiang. (Xinhua/Yu Tao)

URUMQI, March 2 (Xinhua) — As the imam of a grand mosque in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Memet Jume is well placed to bear witness to how freedom of religious belief is protected and guaranteed in the region.

His mosque, the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, southern Xinjiang, has a history of over 500 years. After it was listed as a key unit of national cultural relics in 2001, the Chinese government repeatedly allocated special funds to carry out major renovations of the mosque.

Thanks to government support, the mosque now has flush toilets, shower rooms, running water, internet connection, heating system and firefighting equipment, among other modern facilities.

From late 2021 to early 2022, the government again invested more than 1 million yuan (about $158,000) in repairing the mosque’s gatehouse, roads, fences and steps, Memet Jume said.

As the son of an imam from the same mosque, Memet Jume is delighted to see that the historic religious place has become a major tourist attraction in Kashgar.

“It is located in the heart of the old city of Kashgar,” said Memet Jume. “Over 2,000 people visited the mosque every day during last year’s peak season. The number was even higher before the outbreak.”

Religious freedom of all ethnic groups is fully guaranteed in Xinjiang, he said, noting that believers are free to participate in religious activities at the mosque.

In winter, due to the cold, many believers prefer to worship at home or go to the mosque in the afternoon.

“We usually get over 100 devotees on winter afternoons, and the number doubles in summer,” Memet Jume said. “Residents living in the neighborhood make up the bulk of worshipers while Muslim tourists or businessmen also pass through there.”

At present, Memet Jume, also a deputy of the 13th National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, is preparing his proposal for its annual session which is due to open on Saturday.

During last year’s session, he presented a proposal to strengthen efforts to train medical talent in the countryside and at the community level.

“This year, I will continue to focus on ordinary people’s work and livelihoods,” he said.

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