Source: South China Morning Post
Date: May 17, 2018
South China Morning Post reports about the Chinese Government’s campaign to rid the northwestern Ningxia Hui autonomous region of what it regards as a worrying trend of Islamisation and Arabisation. The clampdown is part of a push to “Sinicise religion” – a policy introduced by President Xi Jinping in 2015 to bring religions into line with Chinese culture and the absolute authority of the party.
Throughout Ningxia, Islamic decor and Arabic signs are being taken off the streets and no new ‘Arab style’ mosques are allowed to be built. The Government plans to convert some of the existing mosques to look like Chinese temples. Calls to prayer are now banned in Yinchuan on the grounds of noise pollution, books on Islam and copies of the Koran have been taken off the shelves in souvenir shops, some mosques were forced to cancel public Arabic classes and a number of private Arabic schools have been told to shut down.
Unease is growing among more than 10 million members of Hui community who are the descendants of Arab and Central Asian Silk Road traders. For decades, Hui Muslims have largely been left in peace to practice their faith.
As the authorities tighten their grip in Ningxia, scholars are concerned that the region could soon be subject to the same repressive measures as the Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang. They fear that Beijing could be using Ningxia as a testing ground for its Xinjiang policies before they start them elsewhere.