Chinese Muslims protest plans to demolish mosque

BEIJING (AP) — Reports say hundreds of members of China's Muslim Hui ethnic minority have staged rare protests over plans to demolish a newly built mosque in the country's northwest.

Hong Kong's South China Morning post said a crowd gathered Thursday outside the towering Grand Mosque in the town of Weizhou in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

Authorities had planned to begin the demolition Friday, although it wasn't immediately clear if they would proceed according to schedule.

The move comes as China's officially atheist ruling Communist Party is cracking down on religious expression and attacking what it calls radical ideas among the country's more than 20 million Muslims.

Further west in the region of Xinjiang, hundreds of thousands of members of the Uighur and Kazakh Muslim minorities have been detained in re-education camps.