Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Hundreds of protesting Muslims in western China postponed the demolition of their new mosque.
A large crowd gathered all day Thursday at the Weizhou Grand Mosque in Ningxia, built in the elaborate, Middle Eastern style and recently opened after two years of construction. They demonstrated against an Aug. 3 announcement by the provincial government that the mosque was not granted appropriate building permits and must be demolished.
The announcement added that the government would "forcefully demolish it according to law" if mosque managers refused to comply.
At midnight, the local county head told the demonstrators that the government would not demolish the mosque. He added that a reconstruction plan, agreeable to local authorities, would be negotiated. A source close to the government said the agreement would have eight of the imposing mosque's nine domes removed.
Some questioned why the mosque was permitted to be built, if relevant permits were not granted, the South China Morning Post reported Friday.
The standoff is the latest in the Ningxia Autonomous Region involving perceived government threats against religion. About 23 million Muslims reside in China, and Islam has been a prominent part of the Ningxia region for centuries.
Muslims and Arabs have increasingly seen their religious freedoms constrained and are concerned over the Chinese Communist Party's announced goals to "Sinicise," or make more Chinese, religion in the country.