Places of worship across China have Islamic and Christian symbols removed on orders from local officials. Businesses with religious signboards are also “rectified.”
by Xin Lu
It may become really difficult to recognize places of worship in China in the future since so many of them have been transformed into ordinary-looking buildings that represent the traditional Chinese architectural style. The CCP continues removing religious symbols from churches, mosques, and temples, never hesitating how much it costs.
Following the five-year plan to “sinicize” Islam outside Xinjiang, issued last year, authorities throughout China have been ordering to remove Arabic-style structures and symbols traditional to the Muslim culture and faith. They also carry out activities promoting the “sinicization” of religion to educate Muslims.
In early July, the person in charge of a mosque located in Xindian town under the jurisdiction of Zhengzhou city in the central province of Henan was pressured to conceal the dome and the crescent moon and star symbol atop the building.
Even after the symbols have been covered, provincial government officials decided that the rectification was inadequate. In November, the mosque’s dome and the crescent moon and star symbol were removed at the cost of 200,000 RMB (about $ 28,000).
The dome and the crescent moon and star atop a mosque in Xindian town are being demolished.
In August, the domes and the crescent moon and star symbols were removed from a mosque in Xijie village in Wuyang county, administered by Henan’s Luohe city. They were replaced with structures in traditional Chinese architectural style. Before the demolition, local officials declared that because the mosque was built in Saudi style, its symbols had to be removed according to the state policies which prohibit religions from being associated with foreign countries. One of the officials threatened the Muslims in the mosque to arrest anyone who refuses to dismantle the signs and resists the government.
The same month, a mosque in the county’s Beiwudu town also had its dome and the crescent moon and star symbols taken down and replaced with a traditional Chinese structure.
The minarets are being dismantled from the mosque in Beiwudu town.
On November 9, a dome was removed from a mosque in Inner Mongolia’s Xilinhot city.
“Even the signs atop the houses owned by Hui residents are ordered to be demolished, starting with residences of Muslim members of the Communist Party,” a Hui resident in Henan told Bitter Winter. “Those who dare resist are threatened to be arrested since it’s against the law to protest demolitions.” He added that the government simply doesn’t allow the presence of Islamic symbols and is forcing people to believe and support the CCP.
In September, Xinzheng city government officials ordered the owners of some Hui restaurants in the area to remove the Chinese characters for “Allah is the greatest” from their signboard, threatening to close their restaurants otherwise. The owners had no choice but to obey.
Christian churches across China are also targeted in the name of “sinicization.” On March 11, Xu Xiaohong, the chairman of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, said at a meeting that churches in China must bear the name Zhong (“China”) and not Xi (“the West”), and all symbols of foreign religions must be removed.
Earlier this year, the government pressured a Three-Self church in Zhengcun town in Xin’an county, administered by Henan’s Luoyang city, to cover the Chinese characters for “Christian Church,” the cross, and religious couplets on its exterior wall.
Even after the order was implemented, the authorities were not satisfied. On October 30, the church was ordered to put up a large poster promoting the core socialist values above its entrance. Amid the continuing brutal suppression of religious liberties in China, words like “freedom” and “democracy” mentioned on the poster look rather incongruous.
At least 11 Three-Self meeting venues in Yiyang county of Henan’s Luoyang city were ‘sinicized’ in the past few months.
Among them, a Three-Self church in Zhaobao town had its European style spires and religious phrases removed in May. The church now looks like an ordinary residential house. In early November, the pulpit in the church was demolished on orders from the town government.
In October, a Three-Self church in Dongwangzhuang township lost its European-style spires, the cross, and the Chinese characters for “Christian church.”