They call it "Little Mecca": a city of prayer caps and hijab, minarets and oxidized green domes.
In some ways, Linxia, in northern China's Gansu province, is a city united. About 60% of its 250,000 people are Muslim. On a frigid Friday afternoon in December, its street life grinds to a halt. Hundreds of men wearing scruffy beards and white caps pack into the tile-clad Xinhua Mosque for afternoon prayers. An imam chants Koranic passages in throaty Arabic. A speaker crackles, and a flock of birds takes flight.
It's also a city divided. There are the mainstream Muslims, locals say — and then there are the Salafis.
Salafism is an ultra-conservative school...