RELIGION
10/26/2014 08:33 am ET Updated Oct 26, 2014

Officially Atheist China Is Home To This Vibrant Muslim Community

Kevin Frayer via Getty Images

Despite being officially atheist, and historically most closely associated with Buddhism, China has a deep-rooted relationship with Islam, dating as far back as the 7th Century. At least 1.8% of the population, or roughly 24 million people, identify as Muslim, making China’s Muslim population roughly the size of Yemen’s and eight times more numerous than the United Kingdom’s.

In recent months, China’s Uighur Muslims have garnered the most media attention as violence has intensified in the autonomous western region of Xinjiang. Although Xinjiang has been under Chinese communist rule since 1949, capital officials in Beijing have recently intensified its efforts to control the region and its religion, leading to clashes with the indigenous Uighurs, the region’s largest ethnic minority.

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