As the CCP advances its 5-year plan to “sinicize” Muslims outside of Xinjiang, numerous places of worship in the province were stripped of religious symbols.
by Wang Yichi
On March 18, amid the coronavirus outbreak, government-hired workers wearing face masks worked on the Gongmazhuang Mosque roof in the Economic Development Zone of Zhengzhou, the capital of the central province of Henan. There was nothing wrong with the roof that needed repairing: the workers were remodeling the mosque, to make it look “more Chinese,” after its domes and star-and-crescent symbols were removed last November.
The city’s Religious Affairs Bureau ordered the rectification last June, but the mosque’s congregation refused and fought back. Bureau’s officials continuously rebuked them for “disobeying the Party’s command.”
“All mosques across the country are being rectified,” director of a mosque in Zhengzhou told Bitter Winter. “Xi Jinping acts like a tyrant. Anyone resisting these demolitions will lose their job and will be punished by the government.”
Another mosque’s director said that at least 50 mosques in Zhengzhou had their Islamic symbols removed last year. “These are the symbols of our faith, but they are being ‘sinicized’ now,” he complained. “We don’t dare to say anything. They demolish and then build something new; it’s really a waste of money and manpower. Even words and phrases in Arabic have to be scraped off vehicles now.”
The government spent nearly two million RMB (about $ 280,000) to “sinicize” the Niezhuang Mosque in the city’s Jinshui district. The mosque’s minarets were remodeled, and star-and-crescent symbols were removed last November. “The mosque now looks like a Chinese temple,” an imam from the mosque said helplessly.
In late March, the government ordered to remove domes and star-and-crescent symbols from a men-only mosque in Xiaoma village, administered by Wuling county in Henan’s Jiaozuo city.
According to a Hui Muslim from the village, nearly 50 mosques in the county were rectified in December, losing all their Islamic symbols as a result.
A local imam confessed that the village’s Muslims started accusing him of collaborating with the government too much, not protesting the orders to remove Islamic symbols from the mosque. “People started asking me if I was an imam or a state official,” the imam explained, clearly embarrassed. “We are forced to act as the Communist Party demands, and I can do nothing about it. My imam’s credentials could be revoked if I don’t submit to the government’s demands.”
As part of the Islam “sinicization,” names and texts in Arabic are removed from Hui-run businesses as well. In Henan’s Kaifeng city, home to a significant Muslim community since the 11th century, the famous night food market is full of halal and Chinese Muslim food stalls. But with the expansion of the CCP’s “de-Arabization” campaign, their signboards are losing traditional names and phrases in Arabic.