China: Prostitution fears spark riot in Muslim area
BEIJING: Thousands ofÂ Muslims of Hui ethnic minority in China’s Gansu province raided and ransacked a newly-opened clubhouse near a mosque following rumours that it has become aÂ prostitution den, according to a media report.
The residents stormed into the Linxia clubhouse, which also houses a karaoke lounge, bathhouse and nightclub after 10 pm on September 21, just a few hours after it was opened, and ransacked it, Hong Kong-based SouthÂ China Morning Post quoted the Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy as saying.
The rioters smashed just about everything they could reach. About 10 people were injured in the clashes between the rioters and security guards of the clubhouse.
Up to 30 local Islamic leaders, some of them in their 70s were arrested more than a week after the clash for allegedly instigating theÂ riots, the newspaper report said.
The clubhouse was large enough to accommodate up to 1,000 customers and was run by relatives of a leading figure in the Linxia prefectural administration who was believed to be from Hui community.
The club was ransacked by the crowd following complaints from residents that services provided by it violated Muslim social values, the paper reported.
The people were also upset by the loud music from the club.
Bai Zhiliang, a Hui staff member said one reason for the residents’ anger could have been that the clubhouse was only about 500 metres from a mosque.
More than 100 households living in the same building, above the nightclub, had also been concerned about the likelihood of loud music being played well past midnight. The boss of the nightclub was well known to every resident.
“They dare do every dirty thing inside,” he said. This club unlike the other two other karaoke venues on the same street was believed to have provided special service – a euphemism for prostitution on the mainland China, he said.
The two clubs confined to music and dance, the newspaper report said.
A woman working in a nearby pharmacy said Islamic leaders had approached and tried to talk to the owner of the business, also an ethnic Hui, to give it up but their efforts had ended in failure.
Dubbed the “Chinese Mecca” since the middle of the Ming dynasty, Linxia is an autonomous prefecture housing about 10 million strong Muslim Hui ethnic minority and boasts a long history of Islamic culture.
Located on the upper reaches of the Yellow River, the region’s Muslims regard themselves as the descendants of Arabs who traversed through the Silk Road centuries ago.
Over the time Hui Muslims mixed well with the growing numbers of Chinese Han population in the region.