Thanks to the policy to make religions “more Chinese,” Islamic symbols have been removed from buildings in Gansu Province and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
After the new Regulations on Religious Affairs came into force last year, the policy of “sinicization” and the “de-Arabization and de-Saudization” campaign has been widely promoted across China.
The drive to “emphasize a Chinese style” resulted in changing the exterior of mosques, with many Islamic symbols being forcibly removed in north-central Gansu Province and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
Zhangjiachuan Hui autonomous county, under the jurisdiction of Gansu’s Tianshui city, is a region with a large Hui population, so, naturally, it has a majestic-looking mosque and other religious architecture, all under the umbrella of the Hui Nationality Custom Park, a national 4A-level tourist attraction.
But in July 2018, the local government ordered the closure of the park, meaning that all of the Islamic architectural symbols in the park – such as crescent moons, Arabic patterns, and scripture on the walls – went down with it. The Arabic-style entrance to the Hui Nationality Custom Park was altered into a traditional Chinese square gate, while the mosque was converted into the Zhangjiachuan Cultural Exhibition Hall.
The four-cornered roof of the mosque at the park originally had four towers with a height of about 10 meters, with a dome at the center. On each tower and the dome were crescent-moon symbols measuring about six meters in height. Now, all of these symbols are gone.
Same goes for the religious symbols in several mosques in Ningxia’s Guyuan city.
Yangfang Mosque is located in Gucheng town, Pengyang county, under the jurisdiction of Guyuan city, Ningxia. Last March, the dome was dismantled from the top of the mosque, and the crescent moons were taken down from the towering pillars on both sides. Later, the local government shut down the mosque.
After it was closed, villagers had no choice but to go to another distant mosque, Yangfang Great Temple, to worship. Then, in May 2018, the Islamic symbols at the top of Yangfang Great Temple were also forcibly dismantled by the government. The mosque’s Muslims shouldered the entire demolition cost.
The authorities even prohibited the temple’s believers from chanting scripture during worship, let alone doing so over loudspeakers.
Longbao Mosque in Xiji county’s Langcha village not only had its religious symbols removed, but a Chinese flag was raised, and the Regulations on Religious Affairs and the Core Socialist Values were posted inside the mosque. The mosque has gradually become “sinicized.”
Reported by Li Wensheng