The CCP is “sinicizing” Muslims outside Xinjiang, eliminating their culture and religion, as part of the five-year plan. Islam-related symbols are first to go.
by Li Guang
Hui Muslims densely populate Luoyang city in the central province of Henan. It is home to many mosques, ethnic shops, hotels, and other businesses; their buildings adorned with Islamic symbols and ornaments. Ever since the new CCP’s law on Islam was adopted in December of 2017, followed by the launch of a five-year plan to “sinicize” all Chinese Muslims outside of Xinjiang, all Islam-related symbols, even architectural elements, in the city have been disappearing. Arabic signs and phrases, such as Allāhu akbar (“Allah is the greatest”), are removed or covered up.
All Islam-related symbols and structures must go
A source revealed to Bitter Winter that the Religious Affairs Bureau of Chanhe Hui district of Luoyang recently issued a document, according to which, all Islamic-style dome structures must be removed from Hui mosques.
As per the source, the concentrated demolition campaign began in June. Islamic-style domes have been already demolished from several mosques, including those in Beiyao sub-district, at East Bus Station, and on Xinjie Street. The Ethnic Hotel in the district has also suffered the same fate, and the removal of domes from other mosques is ongoing.
In May, the governments of Shangqiu city and Puyang county, administered by the prefecture-level city by the same name, forcibly dismantled mosques’ domes and star-and-crescent symbols. The officials in charge of the dismantling claimed that this was a nationwide campaign, and anything with Islam-related symbols had to be altered.
Mosques unrecognizable after “facelifts”
Apart from dismantling domes, mosques undergo further transformations in the name of “sinicization,” losing the original Islamic-style look.
As Bitter Winter has previously reported, the star-and-crescent symbols and dome-shaped structures of Tawan West Mosque in Chanhe Hui district were dismantled in April. When we visited the place four months later, it was evident that the mosque had been further transformed: it lost all elements of Islamic style and now bears a striking resemblance to a Taoist temple.
Taxi Women’s Mosque in the district has also undergone a “facelift.” The Islamic-style structure at the top of the mosque was modified to look more Chinese. Another mosque in the area has been renamed to “Taxi Garden.”
The district’s Hui people are witnessing every day how the government is eroding their religion, culture, and traditions; but nobody dares to interfere, fearing retaliation from authorities. When Bitter Winter asked some elderly residents in the district how they felt about the state-imposed transformations, they refused to talk. Visibly distressed and emotional, they couldn’t hide tears. “We’re old, and we don’t understand much, but we don’t meddle in other people’s business,” they uttered, walking away.
“We can’t do anything about it. In Xinjiang, many people die every year,” another Hui resident said.
Over 300 signs in Arabic removed
Signboards in Arabic on businesses in Luoyang’s Hui-inhabited neighborhoods have also been purged comprehensively. In Chanhe Hui district and the nearby areas alone, at least 300 enterprises already had their signboards changed or concealed; many more are in the process of a makeover.
Some business owners told Bitter Winter that in May, Chanhe Hui district’s Urban Management Bureau notified Hui-run enterprises to remove all signboards in Arabic and replace them with new ones written in Chinese. To make sure that the requirement has been implemented, the director of the Religious Affairs Bureau demanded the owners to send to the Bureau photos of the old and new signboards after changes had been made. He claimed that this was a national policy.
Commenting on the mandatory change of signboards, one Hui resident said that people are scared to go against the government’s requirements. “Who would dare not to replace them? The weak can’t defeat the strong. There is nothing we can do,” he lamented.
“All halal symbols have been dismantled or covered. Officials from the Religious Affairs Bureau don’t allow us to talk about this to anyone. The signs are symbols of an ethnic group. After they have been removed, what symbolism is left?” a shopkeeper said disgruntledly.
Other businesses have refused to make new signboards and merely covered up the parts in Arabic; “Allah is the greatest” being the text that is most often written on them. “I don’t want to remove the Arabic sign. If Arabic texts are allowed again in the future, I will reveal the covered parts,” said a noodle restaurant owner, looking up at his signboard with the concealed Arabic text. “In my hometown, signboards in Arabic have been prohibited for a long time; only Chinese is allowed. In China, only the Communist Party can be the greatest.”
Some observers believe that the removal of Arabic signs and symbols isn’t just part of the CCP’s “de-Islamization” policy, but also proves the regime’s total aversion to all religions. Any mention of higher authority that may hint at prevailing over the CCP – like “Allah is the greatest” or “You shall have no other gods before me” – has become an issue for distress to the communist government, and any such display of “disloyalty” needs to be rectified, no matter what.