The CCP implements its plan to “sinicize” Muslims outside Xinjiang by discarding Islamic symbols, rectifying Arabic-style architecture, and indoctrinating people.
by Li Mingxuan
Since the CCP started implementing its five-year (2018–22) plan to “sinicize” Islam, numerous mosques throughout China have been dismantled or suppressed. The campaign is further enforced by removing Islamic symbols, restricting the use of Arabic, supplanting quotes from the Quran with those of President Xi Jinping, and forcing imams to spread the communist ideology.
Symbols in mosques removed, believers indoctrinated
In November 2019, the United Front Work Department in a county of the eastern province of Shandong commanded to remove all Islam-related symbols and sayings in mosques and substitute them with Xi Jinping’s quotes. Subsequently, the president’s instructions, such as “Do not forget the original intention, keep the mission in mind” and “Build the Chinese dream together,” as well as decrees from the new Regulations on Religious Affairs, started invading all mosques in the area.
According to a local imam, believers are ordered to study Xi Jinping’s books, which are now abundant in his mosque, write study reports and submit them to the authorities. “The CCP is atheist, and if we try to resist it, we’ll be arrested and persecuted as counter-revolutionaries,” the imam said helplessly. “The government indoctrinates believers with Communist Party creeds; it wants people to believe in the Party, not their faith. The United Front Work Department was established to make everyone think as the government wants.”
According to a Hui Muslim from Baiyin, a prefecture-level city in the northwestern province of Gansu, in the second half of 2019, the local United Front Work Department and Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau organized the leaders of all the mosques in the city to visit Haiyuan county in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region to learn about their success in “sinicizing” places of worship. The visitors were shown numerous mosques transformed into Chinese-style buildings after all domes and crescent-moon symbols had been removed – an essential part of the CCP-prescribed “sinicization” of Islam. Ahead of the forced transformations, the local United Front Work Department conducted intensive ideological work on imams and mosques’ directors to make them align their religious teachings with the Party doctrine, which is also a mandatory “sinicization” prerequisite.
“Not all of them agreed, but the rectification was carried out regardless. Imams were threatened to have their certificates revoked if they didn’t support the government’s work,” the source in Baiyin explained. “If you go against the government, it will get you into trouble. Even though Islamic symbols in the mosques have been removed, Allah still lives in our hearts.”
Ethnic Huis forced to abandon their identity
Last December, the government removed the dome and the star-and-crescent symbol from a gate to a Hui village in Yuxi, a prefecture-level city in the southwestern province of Yunnan. According to a local Muslim, that day, police officers guarded each intersection, and the relatives of all village residents who work for the government were asked to be present at the site.
“People understood the government’s intention: By inviting family members, they wanted to send a message that those who disobey the state will lose their jobs,” the Muslim villager said. “The government forbids Hui people to use Arabic, prohibits children from learning it and studying the Quran. Even signboards on shops must be in Chinese. How can we preserve our culture and faith? The CCP wants to ‘Hanify’ all Hui people.”
The Yunnan Minzu University prohibited a Halal canteen on campus from having menus in Arabic and preparing Suhoor – the traditional meal consumed by Muslims early in the morning before fasting during Ramadan. It also banned Hui teachers and students from wearing headscarves. “The university leader said that these are the state’s regulations. If the canteen doesn’t agree to remove words in Arabic, the contractor cannot continue business there,” a source at the university told Bitter Winter.