Mosques throughout China are rectified to be “more Chinese,” as the CCP continues to enforce its five-year plan to “sinicize” Islam outside Xinjiang.
by Li Wensheng
As the government’s five-year (2018–2022) plan to “sinicize” Muslims outside Xinjiang is being actively implemented throughout the country, Islamic symbols continue to disappear from mosques, and Hui Muslims are deprived of their culture and customs.
The Menglou village’s mosque in Shangqiu city’s Ningling county in Henan Province lost its dome and the star-and-crescent on orders by the local government in December last year. The same happened to four mosques in Henan’s prefecture-level city of Xinyang.
“The CCP demands every ethnic group in China to do the same, use Chinese culture and architecture as a standard, just like during the Cultural Revolution,” a local Muslim told Bitter Winter.
“The government is afraid that Muslims will unite with foreigners, so they order us to convert Islamic structures into Chinese style,” an imam from Xinyang commented on the CCP’s plan to “sinicize” Islam. “If we disobey, they might arrest us and disqualify us as imams.”
16 mosques rectified in one city over one month
In December 2019, at least 16 mosques in Pingliang, a prefecture-level city in the northwestern province of Gansu, had all their Islamic symbols removed. Among them, the Pangmo Grand Mosque has lost its dome and star-and-crescent and now looks like a regular Chinese-style building.
“The government demanded to make everything look Chinese in the mosque; we were sad to see these symbols demolished,” an 80-year-old local Hui Muslim told Bitter Winter. “This is one of the national policies, and we can do nothing about it.”
The dome and the crescent moon on the Xiantai Mosque in the city’s Kongtong district have also been demolished and replaced with a slogan “Love the Party and love the country. Unity and harmony.”
The same happened to the Eastern Grand Mosque in Pingliang’s county-level city of Huating. The mosque that represented the customs of China’s ethnic Muslims has been completely changed, losing its significance as a religious and cultural center. Another mosque in Huating, the Dongchuan Mosque, lost its dome and star-and-crescent on December 27.
Imams in some of the city’s mosques were unwilling to compromise with the government and tried to prevent these rectifications. So, the local authorities organized them to go to Guyuan city in the northwestern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region to show how mosques there had been “sinicized,” intending to break their will by demonstrating the unstoppable implementation of the policy all over the country. Guyuan is a key target of the CCP’s crackdown because of the large Muslim population, and numerous domes, minarets, and other symbols have been removed from mosques in the city.
Prohibiting “disturbing” sounds
The “sinicization” is also implemented by preventing mosques from playing adhan—the traditional call to daily prayers.
In November 2019, officials from the government of the county-level city of Linqing, administered by Liaocheng city in the eastern province of Shandong, ordered to demolish the loudspeakers used by local mosques to inform the Muslims about the time to pray. They claimed that the sound of adhan was “disturbing people.”
“The government’s claim is just an excuse,” a local imam believes. “People play music everywhere while dancing. Doesn’t that disturb others? Why does the government turn a blind eye on it?”
The Religious Affairs Bureau of Guan county in Liaocheng ordered mosques in November to play the national anthem instead of adhan. Since then, residents of eight Hui villages in the county are forced to listen to the national anthem every day.
“Playing the national anthem instead of a call to prayer is the government’s way to ‘sinicize’ Islam,” an imam from Guan county told Bitter Winter. “In April last year, the directors of all the mosques in Shandong Province were told to attend training classes and study the national policies initiated by Xi Jinping since he took office. The aim is to make them accept the leadership of the Communist Party and do as the Party demands.” The imam also thinks the government is eradicating religions through assimilation.