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Published on Jul 10, 2009
A few mosques are reopening in the riot-stricken capital of Chinas Xinjiang Autonomous Region. This is after Chinese authorities backed down from a decision to close all mosques for Friday prayers after a week of unrest.
Hundreds of Uighur Muslims crowded into a few mosques in Xinjiangs capital of Urumqi today. It follows a back down by authorities that had closed mosques for the main day of prayer, saying it was to minimize ethnic tension.
Security forces have imposed control over Urumqi to contain Uighur anger after Han Chinese attacked Uighur neighborhoods on Tuesday.
The decision to silence collective prayers could cause resentment for the Uighurs. But thousands of troops and anti-riot police appeared ready to suppress any fresh Uighur protests.
One Uighur man fought back tears before the service began.
"All of them are our people. They are our sisters and brothers. If we do this to your sisters and brothers, would you be happy about it? You tell me!"
Fear remains high among the Uighurs.
"I don't want to speak about the situation because I am afraid of Chinese, Han Chinese. I am afraid of (the) government. So I can't speak."
Some CCP officials came inside the mosque compound after the prayers ended and asked journalists to stop their interviews with Uighurs. China's ruling Communist Party may fear that big Uighur religious gatherings could become another catalyst for unrest after a week of ethnic strife.