Home to a large number of Hui Muslims, Henan Province is losing Islamic symbols, as authorities intensify the campaign to expel Saudi and Arabic influence.
by Xin Lu
In central China’s Henan Province, Islamic symbols and signs can hardly be seen anywhere now. Prohibited from being displayed in public places, all traditional domes, minarets, the crescent moon and star, and other symbols, characteristic to Islam, are disappearing.
A Mosque made to look like a temple
Pressured by the local government, a mosque located in Shanxiqiao village of Longhu town, under the jurisdiction of the county-level city of Xinzheng, has been made to look like a traditional Chinese temple after a three-month “rectification” project.
The first orders to start modifying the mosque came already in April last year. The Longhu town government told the village Party secretary, an ethnic Hui, to dismantle two white marble pillars at the entrance to the mosque. This year, all Islamic symbols were ordered to be removed and replaced with traditional Chinese ones.
The green pillars on both sides of the gate to the mosque, the onion-shaped domes, and the crescent moon and star symbols have been taken down. If it were not for the three Chinese characters meaning “mosque,” it would be impossible to understand that it is a place of worship for Muslims.
“The Communist Party has the final say in everything. Who dares not to listen to it?” an ethnic Hui told Bitter Winter, looking with sad eyes at the mosque. “Its policy now is to have all people under control. It will do anything as it pleases. Since Xi Jinping calls for a one-party dictatorship, no religions are allowed to exist as they used to, and we can do nothing about this.”
On May 24, a mosque with a history spanning over a century in Pingdingshan city was denuded of its domes; all five were smashed to pieces.
Similarly, a 200-year-old mosque in Anyang city has been converted into a building featuring a traditional Chinese architectural style. The local officials who came to the mosque to demand the changes claimed that all “Arabic style” buildings should be demolished or modified “to look less Islamic.”
Imams controlled by the state, symbols removed from cemeteries
The changes to the style of mosques are only a part of the government’s plan to “sinicize” Islam. Imams are also ordered to preach according to the government’s strict requirements.
“When imams don’t dare to speak of genuine doctrines, we can no longer hear pure interpretations of the Quran. Because officials come to take photos during worship and monitor imams’ preaching each week, they are forced to speak about Xi Jinping, government policies, Chinese culture, and similar topics – just as the government requires,” a Hui Muslim told Bitter Winter.
Apart from mosques, Islamic symbols in Hui cemeteries are also being demolished. On September 17, the domes and the crescent moon and star symbols on both sides of the gate to a Hui cemetery in Weihui city were removed.
“All the domes have to be removed from mosques, and now the symbols in cemeteries are also taken down,” a Weihui city resident lamented. “Everything is being ‘rectified.’ It’s non-negotiable.”