Crescent moon and star symbols, traditional domes are disappearing, as the CCP carries out its campaign to “sinicize” Islam across the country.
by Xin Lu
Since the CCP began implementing its plan to completely “sinicize” Islam outside of Xinjiang within five years, multiple mosques throughout China had their symbols forcibly removed. In the central province of Henan, inhabited by over one million Hui people, the de-Islamization campaign is intensifying. According to a government insider, the CCP uses Henan as a “trial zone” where Islamic symbols have to be removed from all mosques.
Xinmi: Symbols removed from 15 mosques
In mid-June, the Religious Affairs Bureau of Xinmi city informed the persons in charge of the city’s mosques that the government is requiring all religious venues to be “sinicized”: Islamic symbols must be removed and the buildings must conform to China’s “flat roof” architectural style. Venues that do not undergo such modifications will be shut down.
Under heavy government pressure, crescent moon symbols and domes were forcibly removed from at least 15 mosques in Xinmi in June and July. Some Hui residents reported that after the dome had been removed from one of the mosques, water started leaking through the roof, and renovations had to be undertaken to save the mosque.
Hui residents in Pingmo town informed Bitter Winter that in June, the government ordered the person in charge of a local mosque to remove the mosque’s dome, promising to pay for the cost of renovations. After the person in charge spent more than 20,000 RMB (about $ 2,800) to remove the dome, officials came for an inspection. They just took photos but didn’t mention a word about compensation for the dome-removal expenses.
According to a local imam, because the crescent moon and star is the symbol of Islam, its removal means the suppression of their faith. “Removing Islamic symbols from mosques and converting them into a Chinese architectural style is a blatant waste of manpower and resources,” a Hui resident added. “But if we don’t dismantle them, the consequences can be dire. The Communist Party just needs to say the word, and it can punish the people.”
Zhumadian: 40 mosques targeted, imams driven out
In early July, officials from a township government in Suiping county under the jurisdiction of Zhumadian city ordered village officials to destroy a mosque’s dome. Shortly after, officials from provincial, municipal, and county governments arrived at the mosque to inspect the dome’s removal.
According to a local Hui resident, the local authorities told the mosque’s imam to leave and threatened to arrest him if he refused. “The common people are angry, but they don’t dare to say anything. We don’t even have the right to speak,” the Hui resident said with anger.
“Destroying the dome makes all of us sinners,” a village official was heard saying as the Islamic symbols were being removed.
During the campaign to forcibly remove Islamic symbols, many grassroots-level officials received threats from their superiors. Preparing for inspection by the provincial inspection team, a town government under the jurisdiction of Zhumadian ordered the crescent moon and star symbol on the top of a mosque and its dome to be removed in one day. City authorities put pressure on the town government, threatening to remove from office its two top officials if the order is not implemented on time.
In July, a mosque in Xiping county under the jurisdiction of Zhumadian was forced to spend nearly 40,000 RMB (about $ 5,600) to dismantle its dome and crescent moon symbol. “The state suppresses us Muslims and doesn’t protect our customs. If you don’t obey them, they’ll say that you broke the law and will use violence to arrest and suppress you,” the person in charge of the mosque was visibly angry, adding that the Communist Party is acting according to the saying “Submit to me and prosper, or oppose me and perish.”
“They tear down and smash things at will, just like bandits,” a Hui resident in his seventies commented. According to him, Islamic symbols have been forcibly removed from at least 40 mosques within the jurisdiction of Zhumadian.