In China more than 300 Chinese and foreign Moslems assembled this week to celebrate the Gurban religious festival at Peking's Tungszu mosque.
GV Group of Moslems walk towards Tungszu mosque.
SV Moslem enters mosque.
SV & GV Service in progress with Moslems praying. (7 SHOTS)
SV PAN Moslems complete prayer.
GV EXTERIOR Moslems in courtyard.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: In China more than 300 Chinese and foreign Moslems assembled this week to celebrate the Gurban religious festival at Peking's Tungszu mosque.
SYNOPSIS: While there is official tolerance of religion in China, on the whole it is not encouraged and religious books cannot be imported or published. But communities such as this one can pray and practice their faith without fear of reprisals.
Islam is one of many religions still existing in China. Here in Peking it is boosted by the presence of foreigners, but elsewhere in the country -- in the far western province of Sinkiang for example - the muezzins still call the faithful to prayer, although most worshippers are now old men and women. Although free to pass on their faith to younger generations, the general impression gained by foreign visitors is that Islam is declining. Local officials stick to a traditional Marxist-Leninist line -- speaking of religion as "an opiate that paralyses the minds of the people in the service of the exploiting classes". They talk in terms of raising the consciousness of people by organised studies and education -- in which matters of the spirit play no part.
But the characteristically simple ceremonies of Moslem worship still take place; regardless of ideological disapproval. Leading members of the Chinese Islamic Association were present at this festival -- and afterwards joined in greetings in time-honoured style.