The next 15 megacities #5: Tourist flock to the Xi’an’s ancient Muslim area – but reports from elsewhere in China of crackdowns and re-education camps are setting nerves on edge
The streets of Xi’an’s Muslim quarter are bustling. Tourists from all over China and the rest of the world throng the small stalls and restaurants for delicacies such as yangrou paomo lamb stew, roujiamo lamb burgers, persimmon cakes and “smoked ice-cream” – a bowl of puffed cereal dipped in liquid nitrogen.
There has been a Muslim community in the capital of Shaanxi Province – at the eastern end of the old Silk Road in central China – since the seventh century. During the Tang dynasty, when the city was called Chang’an, travelling Muslim merchants and some soldiers from central and west Asia made it their home. Many married Chinese Han women, and their offspring became known as Hui, now one of China’s 56 ethnic groups.
The Muslim quarter is well-known for its range of halal and non-halal food stalls
By 2035 another 15 cities will have populations above 10 million, according to the latest United Nations projections, taking the total number of megacities to 48.
The entrance to Xiyangshi Street in the Muslim quarter
Shops and stalls sell everything from spices and stinky tofu to souvenirs for tourists
Top left and main: Xiaopiyuan Street Mosque; top right: inside Daxuexi Alley Mosque
A courtyard inside Xiaopiyuan Street Mosque
A few months ago, the old bilingual signs in Arabic and Chinese at the entrances to the Muslim quarter were replaced with new ones that only feature Chinese characters
Link : China’s Muslims fear crackdown in ancient city of Xi’an