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In China, rise of Salafism fosters suspicion and division among Muslims

In China, rise of Salafism fosters suspicion and division among Muslims

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...

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