Two schools offering classes to learn Arabic and study the Quran were closed last year, amid the CCP’s accelerating campaign to eradicate Muslim culture and faith.
by Ma Xiagu
For years, mosques in various parts of China offered classes for Muslims to learn Arabic and study the Quran, but since President Xi Jinping’s repressive religious policies were launched, many scripture classes and language schools have been shut down. Hui Muslims now face the danger that their faith and culture will not be passed on to future generations.
The Arabic language school in Zhongshahai Hui village in the Dingtao district of Heze, a prefecture-level city in the eastern province of Shandong, was established in 1985. As described in its admission brochure, the school was the only private school teaching Arabic in the province, attended by Muslim students from all parts of China. It also provided courses to study the Quran. Over the past 30 years, many school graduates went on to serve as imams in mosques throughout the country.
In November 2019, the school was shut down, and all teachers, students, and imams were sent home. The school was also ordered to remove its signboard and the crescent moon and star symbols on the three columns outside the building. A local government source told Bitter Winter that the school was shut down to prevent Islam from spreading and bar people from studying Arabic and the Quran.
According to a local Hui Muslim, in the spring of 2019, the local police raided the school under the pretext of searching for “rioters and terrorists from Xinjiang” who had allegedly infiltrated the school. The officers wanted to arrest all students from Xinjiang, but thanks to the school headmaster and teachers’ intervention, the students evaded capture.
“The CCP is so vicious,” a local Muslim commented. “The number of imams serving in mosques will dwindle if schools are prevented from cultivating young followers of Islam, and our faith might gradually disappear in the future. What’s wrong with our belief in Allah? Why the CCP bullies us like this? Xi Jinping is an atheist, but he can’t deny us our religion.”
As per the Suggestions on Strengthening and Improving Islamic Work Under the New Circumstances, a documented jointly issued by the General Office of the CCP Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council on April 19, 2018, Arabic is not allowed to be promoted and used as an ethnic minority language. Therefore, schools teaching Arabic are banned from cultivating clergy successors, providing religious courses, holding religious activities, or sending religious students to study abroad. As a result, many schools teaching Arabic have been closed down in the areas populated by Muslims.
In July 2019, the headmaster, some teachers and students from a private school teaching Arabic in Yinchuan, the capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, were arrested and questioned for storing and distributing the Quran.
According to a teacher from the school, about 100,000 Qurans were confiscated and burned. Nobody dared to protest, knowing well that they would be arrested if they did. The teacher told Bitter Winter that the school had existed for over 30 years and had more than 200 Hui Muslim students last year, aged from 15 to 18.
In November, the Yinchuan city government ordered the school’s students to go on holiday, and teachers were dismissed and sent home.
“The government would not allow our school to teach Arabic or the Quran any longer,” the teacher lamented. “Children are permitted to learn Chinese only. The government told students to go on holiday instead of officially closing down the school. But we could be arrested if the school continues teaching. The authorities are afraid that people of faith will unite with ‘foreign forces.’”