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‘Another mosque’ destroyed by China’s government? No, video of damaged minaret pulled down after Turkey’s 2023 earthquakes

IN SHORT: A short video clip has been posted widely online, with the claim it shows a mosque pulled down by the Chinese government. But that’s not accurate.

“The Chinese government destroying another mosque” reads the caption of a three-second video clip doing the rounds online in Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and elsewhere since 7 February 2024.

It continues: “The Chinese Communist Party has been focusing on mosques as part of its crackdown against the Muslim Uyghurs.”

The clip shows an earth-mover pulling down a minaret, or mosque tower.

The Uyghurs are a Turkic people mainly found in northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the only province of the country with a Muslim majority. 

With a population of about 11 million in Xinjiang, and more spread worldwide, Uyghurs have a distinct language, culture and history and tend to belong to the Sunni branch of Islam.

In 2014 China’s ruling Communist Party launched a campaign of persecution against the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim communities in Xinjiang.

Reports on the campaign, ramped up in 2017, include allegations and evidence of arbitrary detention, “disappearance”, rape, forced sterilisation, torture and confinement to labour camps, as well as bans on Uyghurs speaking their language and practising their religion.

In 2023, news of China’s “mosque consolidation” policy emerged. Under the policy, hundreds of mosques in the north of China have been closed, demolished or converted to other use.

The viral claim can also be seen here, here, here, here and here.

But does the clip really show “another mosque” being destroyed by Chinese authorities?


Minarets pulled down after earthquakes in Adana, Turkey

Social media comments challenge the claim, saying the clip was filmed in Türkiye.

We ran frames from the video through Google Lens, which finds exact matches to images online.

This led us to two March 2023 media reports from the country Türkiye, which straddles the continents of Asia and Europe and was previously called Turkey.

Both include longer versions of the video, which was shot in the city of Adana in southern Türkiye. It’s described as showing the minaret of a mosque being torn down after it was damaged by earthquakes the previous month.

On 6 February 2023 two earthquakes, nine hours apart, ripped through southern Türkiye and the north of neighbouring Syria. More than 47,000 people were killed.

According to machine translation of one report, 150 minarets in Adana started to pose a danger after they were seriously damaged in the quakes, and so were demolished one by one in a controlled manner.

The video shows an earthquake-damaged minaret of a mosque being pulled down in Türkiye, not an Uyghur mosque being destroyed by the Chinese government.

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