CHINA’S campaign to suppress Islam is accelerating as authorities remove Arab-style onion domes and decorative elements from mosques across the country.
In 2018, the mosque in the Suntagh village was demolished and a public toilet was built on the site.
China has destroyed 70 per cent of the mosques in Xinjiang. In 2019, China destroyed the Azna mosque and now a store that sells alcohol and cigarettes has come up in its place.
According to Uighur human rights project, Beijing has destroyed between 10,000 to 15,000 mosques in Xinjiang in the last three years.
Of recent, stark changes have been observed at the main mosque in Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia province, where most of China’s Hui ethnic Muslim minority live.
The bright green onion-shaped domes and golden minarets that used to soar into the sky atop Nanguan Mosque have all been pulled down. Golden Islamic-style filigree, decorative arches, and Arabic script that before adorned the mosque have also been stripped away.
What remains is unrecognisable – a drab, gray, rectangular facility with “Nanguan Mosque” written in Chinese, as shown in photos posted online by Christina Scott, the UK’s deputy head of mission in China, on a recent trip.
“TripAdvisor suggested the Nanguan Mosque in Yinchuan well worth a visit,” Ms Scott wrote on Twitter, along with ‘before and after’ photos. “Only this is what it looks now, after ‘renovations.’ Domes, minarets, all gone. No visitors allowed either, of course. So depressing.”
The UK foreign office said: “We are deeply concerned about restrictions on Islam and other religions in China. We call on China to respect Freedom of Religion or Belief, in line with its Constitution and its international obligations.”
Islamic-style onion domes and decorative elements are also being axed from mosques in neighbouring Gansu province, home to Linxia, a city nicknamed “Little Mecca” for its history as a centre for Islamic faith and culture in China.
Erasing Islamic decorative elements from mosques is yet another step Chinese authorities are taking under Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, who has vowed to ‘Sinicise’ religion.
More recently, the coronavirus has given Chinese authorities convenient cover to keep many mosques closed – even as Beijing crows victory over the pandemic and a flurry of activity has picked up again.
China has for years waged a campaign against Islamic influence, removing decorative elements and Arabic script from buildings, signs and arches, and now, targeting mosques in Ningxia and other provinces.
In Xinjiang, things have taken an especially sinister turn with “re-education” camps that subject detainees to horrific physical torture, political indoctrination and forced labour. Growing a beard, fasting and reading the Koran have all been deemed suspicious behaviour by the government and reason enough to be interned in camps.
Former detainees have told the Telegraph of being electrocuted by cattle prods, made to pledge loyalty to the ruling Party, and of being forced to work in factories manufacturing gloves for little pay.
Schools that previously taught Arabic language and trained imams have also been forced to shutter, the Telegraph has reported. Instead, the government has set up special schools to train imams to have the “correct political stance,” according to Chinese state media.
China has waged a war on its Muslims targeting their culture, history and their religion, those in Xinjiang cannot do much about it. However, people outside can but they aren’t. China’s actions should provoke the Muslim world but they remain silent.
Saudi Arabia the self-appointed leader of the Muslim world won’t say a word against China. Turkey which wants to dethrone the Saudis and project itself as the rightful leader of the Muslim world has been rounding up those who escaped from China and handing them over to Beijing.
Pakistan pretends it doesn’t even know what’s going on in Xinjiang. Malaysia says it won’t criticise China because it does not respond well to criticism and Iran has actually justified China’s action saying Beijing is serving Islam by suppressing the Uighurs.
The rest of the world that claims to uphold human rights has watched China’s Muslims being killed by the Chinese state and not lifted a finger.
Chinese authorities are “really worried about external religious influence and authority,” said Dru Gladney, an expert in China’s ethnic minority groups and a professor of anthropology at Pomona College.
Being religious “is a threat to the political authority to the state; you’re giving allegiance to a non-Chinese authority,” said Mr Gladney.
Additional reports by The Telegraph, WION