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Rebuilding life of ethnic minority people displaced by poverty

Xinhua, October 17, 2014 Adjust font size:


For many ethnic minority migrants, houses and jobs are not enough to lead a new life. Professor Peng Qian said the migrants' religious traditions must be respected.

Leaders attending the September central conference urged absolute opposition against Han chauvinism.

Ma Hongliang, 52, is eagerly awaiting a mosque in the new community he moved to last year. His new home is about 500 km from his old residence in Xihaigu region, which was declared "uninhabitable" for humans by visiting experts from the United Nations in 1982.

In 2012, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, heavily-populated by Muslims Hui ethnic minority, launched a project to relocate 350,000 residents from Xihaigu to new neighborhoods closer to town. Ma is among nearly 230,000 who have left.

The migration policy requires land earmarked for mosques with the number of mosques varying depending on how many sects its residents belong to.

Since construction of the mosque will not kick off until the last batch of 1,000 migrants move into the settlement, the local government offered Muslims empty houses to serve as temporary prayer rooms.

Ma's sect was allowed to use a 54-square-meter bungalow. But due to the growing attendance, Ma and his neighbors built a larger house for prayers with their own money. "During the peak time of Friday sermon, the small room was packed with nearly 100 people," Ma said.

The Hui migrants, who used to live separately in their old homes, have got along with their Han neighbors in the new community.

For example, praying five times a day by the Hui, summoned by a large loudspeaker, would annoy the Han, but none of the latter has ever complained about it. Likewise the Hui tolerate the Han's noisy custom of setting off firecrackers during the Chinese Lunar New Year, said Wan Xuefeng, deputy director of the community committee.

"There's inconvenience, but we understand each other," Ma said.

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