Group says China demolishes mosque for not supporting Olympics


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8:59 - 23/06/2008

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese authorities in the restive far western region of Xinjiang have demolished a mosque for refusing to put up signs in support of this August's Beijing Olympics, an exiled group said on Monday.

The mosque was in Kalpin county near Aksu city inXinjiang's rugged southwest, the World Uyghur Congress said.

The spokesman's office of the Xinjiang government said ithad no immediate comment, while telephone calls to the countygovernment went answered.

"China is forcing mosques in East Turkistan to publicisethe Beijing Olympics to get the Uighur people to support theGames (but) this has been resisted by the Uighurs," WorldUyghur Congress spokesman Dilxat Raxit said in an emailedstatement.

Beijing says al Qaeda is working with militants in Xinjiangto use terror to establish an independent state called EastTurkistan.

Oil-rich Xinjiang is home to 8 million Turkic-speakingUighurs, many of whom resent the growing economic and culturalinfluence of the Han Chinese.

Dilxat Raxit added that the mosque, which had beenrenovated in 1998, was accused of illegally renovating thestructure, carrying out illegal religious activities andillegally storing copies of the Muslim holy book the Koran.

"All the Korans in the mosque have been seized by thegovernment and dozens of people detained," he said. "Thedetained Uighurs have been tortured."

The Olympic torch relay passed through Xinjiang last weekunder tight security, with all but carefully vetted residentsbanned from watching on the streets and tight controls overforeign media covering the event.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

(For more stories visit our multimedia website "Road toBeijing" at http://www.reuters.com/news/sports/2008olympics;and see our blog at http://blogs.reuters.com/china )

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