Observers have called China’s actions in Xinjiang the work of a “bulldozer state”. It is an apt way to describe the ongoing work of destruction and remodelling of the region’s landscape and its people. Mosques such as the one in Keriya were an early target of the campaign against “religious extremism”. A reporter visited the eastern region of Qumul in 2017 and learned from local officials that over 200 of the region’s 800 mosques had already been destroyed, with over 500 scheduled for demolition in 2018. Residents said that their local mosques had disappeared overnight, levelled without warning.
Muslim countries, many of which are deeply indebted to China through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), have failed to condemn or have actively supported what China is doing in Xinjiang.