- "Our mosque is not damaged, nothing is done wrong. Only thing is that they should have not done it. For that they apologized so we accept it."
- Hong Kong officials struggled to minimize the aftermath of the incident, which protesters used as the latest example of what they call disproportionate police tactics.
- As per records by the Islamic Community Fund, which runs the city's five mosques and two cemeteries, Hong Kong boasts of over 300,000 Muslims.
The government of Hong Kong apologized Monday to the region’s Muslim leaders after riot police sprayed a mosque gate and some people with a water cannon as authorities tried to disperse rowdy protesters on Sunday. Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the police chief visited the Kowloon Mosque to apologize to Muslim community leaders, religious officials told news reporters.
“Our mosque is not damaged, nothing is done wrong. Only thing is that they should have not done it. For that they apologized so we accept it,” said Saeed Uddin, honorary secretary of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong. During Sunday’s protest, a police car sprayed some people standing in front of the mosque with blue-tinted water. Local broadcaster RTHK reported that people outside the mosque were on-site to protect it.
Hong Kong officials struggled to minimize the aftermath of the incident, which protesters used as the latest example of what they call disproportionate police tactics. Police used water cannons, tear gas and pepper spray to fight protesters who remained on the streets at the end of the unauthorized demonstration, during which political reforms and an independent investigation into police action were being demanded.
As per records by the Islamic Community Fund, which runs the city’s five mosques and two cemeteries, Hong Kong boasts of over 300,000 Muslims. Police said on Sunday that the spraying of the mosque was an accident and sent representatives to meet with the mosque leaders. “It is most unfortunate that the dispersal operation has caused unintended impact on the Kowloon Mosque,” the region’s police said on their Facebook page.
The Genesis of the Protests
The demonstrations began in June in response to a bill proposed in April, which would have allowed for Hongkongers to be extradited to mainland China. Critics of the bill said it could put activists and journalists at risk, and the extradited could be unfairly tried and dealt with violently in China. They also argued that it would give China more control over the territory.
Hong Kong is a former British colony, and is now part of China under an agreement known as “One Country, Two Systems.” Hong Kong is guaranteed a certain level of autonomy, such as its own judiciary and a fully-fledged legal system away from mainland China.
The bill that gave rise to the protests was suspended in July, but protesters were not satisfied and demanded that it be canceled altogether. The protests have since evolved into a pro-democracy movement with protesters now demanding five key demands, which are as follows:
- The protests shouldn’t be characterized as “riots”
- An amnesty for all the arrested activists
- An independent inquiry into alleged police brutality
- Implementation of complete universal suffrage
- Total withdrawal of the extradition bill
Some also want the immediate resignation of the Region’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, whom they regard as a “Beijing puppet.”