Government officials across China expand Islam “sinicization” campaign by ordering to conceal traditional Islamic duas— prayers of supplication or request.
by Wang Yichi
For some Huis, Chinese speaking Muslims, duas above the doors of their homes or businesses, usually written in Arabic, have become symbols of their ethnic and religious identity. Amid the ongoing crackdowns on Islam in China, these prayer verses have also become eradication targets in localities inhabited by ethnic Huis.
On June 29, all duas were removed from the houses in Pengjiazhuang, a Hui village in Hebei Province’s Xinle city. Residents were not given any advance warning.
“Officials said that all Arabic texts across the country should be removed because of ‘Uyghur troubles’ in Xinjiang,” a village resident explained. “They want us only to follow the Communist Party, not Allah, aiming to eliminate Islam.”
The same month, duas above the doors of houses in Yucun, a town administered by the county-level city of Xintai in the eastern province of Shandong, were covered with Chinese landscape paintings. In Shendong village alone, 71 houses were “rectified.”
Hui residents believe that this is part of the CCP’s crackdown on Islam. “The government prohibits us from learning Arabic, only Chinese must be used,” one of the residents said. “Like people in Xinjiang are banned from studying the Uyghur language. The government aims to control us through ‘sinicization,’ fearing that we’ll oppose it.”
The prefecture-level city of Pingliang in the northwestern province of Gansu, bordering Shaanxi Province and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, is renowned for its Hui calligraphers, who integrate the traditional Chinese and Muslim writing styles. Favored by Muslims abroad, calligraphers’ works in the form of duas are also widely displayed in most local homes and halal restaurants. Since the end of last year, however, the majority of them in local villages have been covered or painted over on orders by local officials.
A Hui resident told Bitter Winter that officials ordered people to conceal their duas themselves, threatening to break the doors or gates, above which they were displayed.
“Hanging duas has been our custom for years, but the government ordered to cover them,” the man explained. “Anyone who tried reasoning with them was threatened to be punished.”
The crackdown on duas is part of the CCP’s nationwide campaigns to “sinicize” Islam. Similar to drives against the “generalization of halal,” such attacks targeting China’s Muslim population are implemented in the name of eradicating “religious extremism.”