China’s ambassador to Ankara has reiterated that China respects the freedom of religion, including that of Muslims, weeks after protests took place across Turkey following reports of Beijing imposing an alleged fasting ban during Ramadan.
“In China, people can practice their religion, and worship is protected. We protect people’s freedom of religion,” Ambassador Yu Hongyang said Sunday during a visit to Turkey’s Presidency for Religious Affairs.
“We try to provide conveniences to the people in religious issues,” he told the head of the presidency, Mehmet Gormez, stressing that the religious rights of Muslims are respected.
Hongyang stressed that Muslims in China's northwestern Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region -- home to many ethnic minority groups, including Uighur Turks -- perform their acts of worship in peace.
Hongyang referred to statistics indicating that an average of 7,800 people had performed taraweh -- a special night-time prayer during Ramadan -- in the region’s 19,613 mosques every day of Ramadan. Meanwhile around 47,000 people ate “iftar” -- the fast-breaking meal after sunset -- at the places of worship, while more than two million people performed the Friday prayers at them, according to the envoy.
During the meeting, Gormez said, “God sent religions for peace, mercy, justice and compassion.”
He stressed the need for “enriched co-existence" in countries with populations from different beliefs and different cultures, saying it depended on three conditions -- “freedom of belief, religious education, and a healthy method of religious services.”
Hongyang’s visit to the Presidency for Religious Affairs comes weeks after Gormez visited the Chinese Embassy in Ankara and conveyed the Muslim world’s sensitivity to reports of a fasting ban.
In late June, Turkey's Foreign Ministry had expressed "deep concern" to China about reports that Beijing had instilled a fasting ban on segments of its Uighur Muslim population.
After the statements, widespread protests took place across Turkey, with nearly 2,000 people marching on the Chinese consulate in Istanbul at their peak.
Many Turks -- who call the Xinjiang autonomous region East Turkestan -- believe that Uighur are among a number of Turkic tribes that inhabit the region, and consider it to be part of Central Asia, not China.
The Uighur have accused China of carrying out repressive policies that restrain their religious, commercial and cultural activities.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.