Many major mosques are closed for Friday prayers in the restive city of Urumqi in China’s Xinjiang region, amid a massive security crackdown .
Authorities believe the holiest day of the week for Islam could mark a fresh flashpoint with ethnic tension still high. Uighur Muslims said they had been directed to pray at home. “The morning prayer, the Friday prayer, we don’t have it today. We can’t go to the mosque,” said one Uighur man. There were reports of at least some collective prayers in the western city. But, after Xinjiang’s worst ethnic violence in decades, between Uighur and Han Chinese, China’s predominant ethnic group, security forces have saturated the streets. “What can you say?” asked a Han Chinese man. “You had Uighurs attacking Han and Han attacking Uighur. Who can make sense of it? I hope we can just get back to a peaceful life.” But as troops take a stand after clashes that authorities say claimd 156 lives, it is reported that thousands of people are now trying to flee.