Police in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region took in for questioning at least 170 Uyghurs who attended prayer services without permission from authorities during last month’s Eid al-Adha celebration.
A report from Radio Free Asia quoted a police officer who said authorities in Aykol township allowed only Uyghurs over the age of 50 to participate in worship services during the holiday.
Many of the 12 million Muslims in the region celebrated Eid al-Adha with prayers, dancing, and the slaughter of goats or sheep as a religious sacrifice.
Authorities in several areas in the region held celebrations reportedly to counter accusations of widespread rights abuses by opening a few mosques to the public during the Eid holy days.
The police officer in Aykol told RFA that more than 170 Uyghurs accused of violating regulations regarding Eid prayers were placed in custody.
“I believe there are more than 170 people,” he said. “We told older people they could pray and young people they could not — those under 50,” the officer told RFA.
Residents said authorities had taken “many neighbors” in for interrogations, but could not provide an estimate.
Authorities also conducted street patrols, raids of shops, and home searches as measures to control Uyghurs’ actions during the Muslim holy days, said the police officer.
Chinese authorities are believed to have held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking minorities in the region in a network of detention camps since 2017.
Beijing says the camps are vocational training centers aimed at combating religious extremism in the region.
Religious restrictions for Eid al-Adha this year were eased in the cities, according the the report, but continued to be strictly implemented in villages.
The regulations were aimed at preventing unrest and preserving stability by ensuring that Uyghurs did not create any incidents during the religious period, said the report.