Communist regime continues to forcibly “sinicize” mosques, demolishing Islamic symbols and replacing them with Chinese-style structures.
by Xin Lu
Mosque converted into a government agency
In mid-July, a sign reading “Guodian Town Service Center for Party Members and Masses” and communist insignia were displayed above the entrance to a mosque in Guodian town, administered by Xinzheng city in the central province of Henan. A tall pole bearing the national flag has been erected in front of the mosque, completing the new look of the building that is now used as a government agency.
According to a local Muslim, the mosque’s forcible transformation started already in June 2018, when its crescent moon and star symbol and the dome were dismantled on orders by the government. In early July this year, four minarets were also demolished.
The authorities claimed that “the mosque was built in the imitation of foreign models, not in line with China’s national conditions.” They added that as the cross in Christianity, domes on mosques are religious symbols, and they must be dismantled as part of the national policy. After the changes to the building, officials locked the mosque to prevent local Muslims from worshiping in what used to be their mosque.
Mosque disfigured for looking “too Saudi”
The Northern Mosque, located in Bayannur city in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, was regarded as the grandest and most beautiful mosque in the area. In July, new dome and crescent moon ornaments were installed on its roof at the cost of one million RMB (about $ 140,000) donated by local Muslims.
In late September, however, this beautiful mosque was utterly disfigured. According to a government insider, the central inspection team ordered the city government to demolish all Islamic symbols on the roof of the mosque because they “were built in Saudi style,” threatening to fire the city head were the orders not implemented. A few weeks later, all the symbols were gone.
“We, common people, donated our hard-earned money to the mosque to build the symbols, but the government demolished them on a whim. It’s totally lawless,” a local Muslim said angrily. “While demanding to hang the national flag and sing the national anthem, the CCP demolishes religious symbols to make people obey and follow the Party. Its goal is to eradicate people’s religious belief.”
Mosques transformed to look “more Chinese”
Two mosques – one for men and the other for women – were built nearly 20 years ago in Goushi town, administered by the county-level city of Yanshi under the jurisdiction of Henan’s Luoyang city. Local Muslims raised over one million RMB (about $ 140,000) for the construction.
In September, the Goushi town government ordered the persons in charge of the mosques to remove Islamic symbols and renovate the buildings to look more like Chinese-style architecture, but they refused.
The higher-ups then interfered. The Luoyang city government issued an order, threatening to dismiss the head of Yanshi city’s Religious Affairs Bureau if the symbols were not demolished. Fearing repercussions, officials from the Bureau started refurbishing the mosques immediately. By late September, the dome of the women’s mosque had been covered with an octagonal pavilion made from iron sheets, changing its look beyond recognition. The men’s mosque still under renovation.
In late July, ten domes of a mosque in Jinzhai township, administered by Henan’s Xingyang city, were changed into structures that look like hexagonal pavilions, and its star and crescent symbols were removed.