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China’s Muslims feel crack of Sinicization whip

HONG KONG (UCAN): On March 12 photographs began circulating on the Internet showing domes and religious motifs being removed from mosques in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region of northern China, as officials imposed the new religious regulation that came into effect on February 1.
Netizens in Yinchuan, the capital of the autonomous region, shared photos of a crane being used to dismantle elements of Islamic buildings deemed to breach China’s Sinicization directive.
All shops in the city are required to replace an Arabic halal food logo with one using Chinese characters and Roman alphabet Pinyin.
It was reported Yinchuan had been ordered to drop the word Muslim when promoting itself as a trading centre.
Only March 10, at the recently concluded Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, chairperson of the government-linked Islamic Association of China, Yang Faming, said that Chinese Islam must adhere to official Sinicization policies by conforming to cultural norms.
A declaration was made requiring the national flag to be raised by local mosques along with the removal of non-Chinese Islamic symbols.
Many mosque motifs are of Middle Eastern origin, including elaborate geometric designs, stylised Arabic script and the ubiquitous crescent moon and star.
Regional centres where action was taken against deviations from official dictates included Zhongwei, Yinchuan and Wuzhong.
Mosques are required to adopt Chinese-architectural styles, with all domes to be demolished by the end of March. Minors, defined as being under the age of 18, are also banned from entering mosques to study, including during vacations.
Clerics were told they have to register their residential addresses as well as provide personal details and documentation, and the use of loudspeakers for calls to prayer and Koranic recitations is now prohibited.
A senior communist official in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region said mosques had to impart core socialist values, patriotism and traditional Chinese culture.
Religious ceremonies should reflect Chinese characteristics, he added.

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