GANSU – Regions with large Muslim populations have witnessed the destruction of mosques in their area as a part of China’s effort to sinicize religious minorities.
Recent reports from Human Rights Watch (HRW) have revealed China’s stance on the alteration, destruction, and closure of numerous mosques in the Northern regions of Ningxia and Gansu.
It is worth noting that this campaign is distinct from the widely criticized crackdown on Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang and is a major strategy to sinicize the religious minorities from the country along with erasing their cultural expressions and identity.
Based on public documents, satellite imagery, and even eyewitness accounts, the HRW reports throw light on China’s unfair efforts to destroy mosques in the regions while destroying the domes and minarets which are considered to be a distinctive feature of Islamic mosques.
This action and steps undermine the cultural heritage of the Muslims and curtail religious practices.
While the mistreatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang caught international attention, the HRW report highlighted China’s oppressive measure which is planned to be extended to other Muslim communities, especially in Hui.
Hui comprise the majority of the Muslim population in Ningxia and Gansu despite their ethnic and linguistic similarities to the Han Chinese majority. The area has not been immune to China’s control over religious practices since 2016 when President Xi Jinping called for sinicization.
China’s policy and plan of mosque consolidation have been highlighted in the reports which indicate the closure of Mosques in 2.5 kilometer radius. Added to this the Chinese government has imposed restrictions on the use of Islamic symbols, Halal food, and Arabic script in the region.
The severe actions and plans by the Chinese government have contributed to the destruction of religious freedom and expression among Chinese Muslims.
In April 2016, China issued a directive that indicated stricter control over the construction and layout of Islamic places.
The report warns that the measures implemented by China indeed violate the fundamental rights of Chinese Muslims to freedom of religion and expression urging China to cease its mosque destruction in the area.
As the plans and implementation by the Chinese government against the Muslims continue to raise concerns the International community watches closely questioning the preservation of diversity and dignity of the affected population.