Pictures of the most important mosque in Yinchuan, the capital of Ningxia province – home to many Hui Muslims, a quarter of the minority population belonging to the minority – were posted on Twitter by Christina Scott, a deputy at the British diplomatic mission in China.
The Nanguan Mosque, rebuilt in 1981, remained a rectangular building after the minarets, arches and Arabic writing were removed, and its name is now written in Chinese characters.
“It simply came to our notice then. The domes, the minarets, all have disappeared “, writes Christina Scott on Twitter, specifying that the mosque cannot be visited.
— Christina Scott (@CScottFCDO) October 18, 2020
The same is true of the mosques in the neighboring province of Gansu, where the city of Linxia, known as “Little Mecca”, is located due to its role as the center of Islamic faith and culture in China.
🇨🇳☪️ Before / After : Sinization of the Nanguan Mosque in Yinchuan in the Hui Autonomous Region of Ningxia. Domes, minarets, Arabic calligraphy and else removed.
4 years ago, Beijing was still seeking to make Ningxia a model of integration and acceptance.
– पुनरुत्थान पुनरुत्थान Bharata Punarutthana (@punarutthana) November 1, 2020
The British Foreign Office said: “We are deeply concerned about the restriction of Islam and other religions in China. We call on China to respect Freedom of Cult or Faith, in accordance with the Constitution and international obligations. “
Many mosques remained closed in China even after the resumption of public life and a victory over the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its campaign against Islamic influence, China has removed decorative elements and Arabic writing from buildings, signs and arcades to now target mosques.
Uyghurs in Xinjiang Province have been subjected to re-education camps where they have been tortured, beaten, indoctrinated and subjected to forced labor, and their religious practices have been declared suspicious of political government.
Former detainees said they were punished with electric shocks and forced to swear allegiance to the Communist Party.
Schools where Arabic was studied were closed, and the government opened special institutions for training imams in a “correct political attitude.”
Dr Gladney, a Chinese minority expert and professor of anthropology at Pomona College, explained that practicing a religion is a threat to the “political authority of the state” insofar as it declares loyalty to a “non-Chinese authority” – so the state does not he will tolerate it, whether it is the Pope or the Dalai Lama, the exiled leader of Tibet, whose portraits are banned in China.
“They are provoking more and more resentment in Muslim communities and more and more of them will eventually be pushed to radical solutions,” says Gladney.
The Communist Party officially recognizes 5 major religions, namely Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Catholicism, Islam and Protestantism, but in practice the government controls and regulates all religious denominations.
China even censors the words “God” and “Bible” in classic children’s books.
Rian Thum, an advanced researcher at the University of Nottingham, explained that Islam is being suppressed more strongly in China because of the widespread Islamophobia here based on a perceived link between the Islamic religion and terrorism.
A second reason is ethnonationalism as a “narrative that legitimizes the Communist Party as the only organization at the head of the country,” implying the removal of foreign influences on the ethnic majority of the Han Chinese.