Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Ho Wai Yip, Associate Professor, Department of Social Sciences, The Education University of Hong Kong

Amid rising violence and vandalism in ongoing protests, the public’s role in cleaning up a mosque sprayed with blue dye last week by the police proves once again the distinctiveness of Hong Kong civil society. The public response to appeals to help with the clean-up show this is a society that voluntarily protects the Muslim community and cherishes the city’s multifaceted ethnic and religious traditions.

On the 20th weekend of protests, a police water cannon truck firing blue dye at the front gates had damaged the city’s largest mosque. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung went to the mosque and apologised in a sign of the sensitivity of the action. They described it as an accident.

But the police defended their use of the water cannon in the name of protecting the mosque from rioters’ vandalism. The blue dye makes it easier for police to identify and arrest protesters.

Immediately after the mosque was sprayed, social media appeals were made to protesters and residents to clean up the front of the blue-stained mosque. The Muslim community was comforted by the many Hong Kong people who volunteered to help. In doing so, they showed they cherish the mosque, defend the rights of Muslims and seek solidarity with the city’s ethnic minorities.

On social media, the Muslim Council in Hong Kong praised the city’s residents.

How did the mosque get caught up in protests?

Since June 9, Hong Kong citizens from all walks for life have been marching in the streets in protest against a Bill of Extradition. Many people fear the Chinese government may use it as a tool to arrest and extradite dissidents from Hong Kong to mainland China for trial.

Though the Hong Kong government formally withdrew the bill last week, the protests are seemingly unstoppable. This is mainly due to protesters’ disappointment at the government’s failure to respond to all of their “five demands”:

  1. complete withdrawal of the Extradition Bill
  2. retraction of the labelling of protesters as “rioters”
  3. full amnesty for arrested demonstrators
  4. an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality
  5. universal suffrage for the Legislative Council and Chief Executive elections.

The Hong Kong government had condemned escalating vandalism, and before the Kowloon protest it was speculated Kowloon Mosque could be targeted. A few days earlier pro-democracy activist leader Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit had been brutally attacked by a gang that some reports said were of South Asian descent.

Police had banned a planned protest at Kowloon on Sunday, October 20. Thousands of protesters still turned out. As many had anticipated, it turned into another violent conflict between the police and protesters.

Mosque is an iconic landmark

What made this incident markedly different from other demonstrations in the past few months was that it involved Kowloon Mosque. It’s a treasured Islamic architectural icon that has long been hailed as a heritage landmark. The mosque has served the city’s largely South Asian Muslim community – about 4% of Hong Kong’s population – since the colonial era.

Mosque clean-up shows Hong Kong is a city that stands up for everyone's rights Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s apology and visit to Kowloon Mosque highlights the sensitivity of the incident. Lynn Bo Bo/EPA

The mosque, the first on Kowloon Peninsula, was built in 1896 for the “Mohammedans of Upper India”. They had arrived in Hong Kong in 1892 to serve in the Hong Kong Regiment of the British Army. The mosque was supported financially by Muslim soldiers in the early 20th century.

After the original mosque was closed due to damage during construction of Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR), a newly built mosque opened at its current site, Tsim Shau Tsui, in 1984.

Kowloon Mosque remains a vibrant place of worship. It is mostly frequented by Muslims who have their roots in the Indian subcontinent. Many of them live in the nearby Chungking Mansions area, home to many ethnic minorities.

The mosque is a vital cultural nexus for ethnic Muslims, a place where they assemble for religious and social life.

City of conscience protects minorities

The history and current role of the mosque explain why the police action risked provoking inter-ethnic tensions. It could stir mistrust between majority non-Muslims and the Muslim minority, potentially and most dangerously inciting Islamophobia. As one Muslim businessman sprayed in front of the mosque, Philip Khan, said:

It is not a personal thing, but they are doing it against my religion, and I am against it.

The increasing violence has stunned the international community. Nobody knows when the government’s measures to end the protests might be effective.

Yet, despite the turmoil of recent months, the civic quality of the ordinary people of Hong Kong shines through. Their actions in protecting the mosque and respecting the long-standing ethnic Islamic tradition distinguish their home as a city of conscience and a unique frontier for protecting the Muslim minority.

Authors: Ho Wai Yip, Associate Professor, Department of Social Sciences, The Education University of Hong Kong

Read more http://theconversation.com/mosque-clean-up-shows-hong-kong-is-a-city-that-stands-up-for-everyones-rights-126012

Writers Wanted

The Role Of The Ego In Gambling


Set ground rules and keep it intimate: 10 tips for hosting a COVID-safe wedding


Why equal health access and outcomes should be a priority for Ardern's new government


The Conversation


Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Business News

Luke Lazarus Helps Turns Startups into Global Stalwarts

There are many positive aspects to globalization. It is no secret that those who have been impacted by globalization tend to enjoy a higher standard of living in general. One factor that has led to ...

Emma Davidson - avatar Emma Davidson

Digital-based strategies that grow and expand your business

Small and medium-sized businesses are increasingly relying on new technology solutions to strengthen their product development, marketing, and customer engagement activities. Technology adoption...

News Co - avatar News Co

What Few People Know About Painters

What do you look for when renting a house? Most potential tenants look for the general appearance of a house. If the house is poorly decorated, they are likely to turn you off. A painter Adelaide ...

News Co - avatar News Co

News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion