The crackdown against Islam in China is not limited to the Stalin-style gulagos (detention camps) located in the far western part of the country. Analysis of satellite imagery and other open-source material over two decades suggests that the suppression of minority communities is geographically and culturally widespread.
For example, there is an abundance of ‘Hui’ Muslims in China’s provinces of Gansu and Ningxia. The minority followers of the religion known as Huijiao are among the minorities in the country.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) allowed only four religions of its Kuomintang predecessors — Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Taoism — after Maotsse Tung announced the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. But after that the persecution of religious minorities in China started soon.
According to independent scholar Ian Johnson, there used to be 900 temples of different religions in Beijing before 1949, of which only 18 remain. This means that 98 percent of the temples in the capital of China have disappeared without leaving a trace in the last 70 years.
A report by the CCP mouthpiece South China Morning Post claimed that China reached a preliminary agreement with the Vatican in August 2016. Accordingly, bishops were to be appointed specifically for Hong Kong. It is believed that China made this agreement in view of Vatican’s relationship with Taiwan.
In September 2017, another mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, Global Times claimed that all five religious groups “have agreed to Chineseize their religions by integrating religious principles into Chinese culture.” The fifth religion probably meant Catholicism, which was linked to all official documents.
Ban on muslim names
In April 2017, the Communist Party of China banned 29 Muslim names in erstwhile East Turkestan. Eastern Turkestan is now known as Xinjiang. This step was taken by the atheist Han community with the aim of subjugating those who believe in Islam. The names banned were Islam, Quran, Mecca, Imam, Saddam, Hajj, Medina and Muhammad.
Zhao Lijian used the name Muhammad Legion Zhao as the diplomat of Beijing in Pakistan that year as the Deputy Advocate of China’s Foreign Ministry. After the ban on names was implemented, Zhao removed the word Muhammad from his Twitter handle.
China cited its efforts to suppress terrorism and extremism on its mainland behind the banning of names. On its part, China defended the measure as part of its efforts to curb terrorism and insurgency on the mainland.
Beard and curtain
In March 2017, under the leadership of the arch-leader of the Communist Party in the region, Chen Kuanguo, new rules were made regarding the so-called unusual beard and clothes covering the entire body.
At public places such as bus stands, railway stations and airports, the police were instructed not to give entry to those with covered faces and those with long beards. Such rules were not only harsh but also violated the human and religious rights of ethnic Muslims of China.
Forced renovation of mosques
After taking over the reins of China from Xi Jinping, leaders like Chen Quanguo attacked Muslims and Islamic culture heavily. The police went door to door forcing Muslims to Chineseize mosques.
This campaign continues even today. The domes were removed from mosques and minarets, which are considered to be special identities of Islamic architecture. They have been replaced by flat roofs associated with Chinese architecture. This type of Chineseization has been seen in Hui-majority Muslim areas of Ningxia and Gansu. For the renovation of mosques, the population which does not sign the petition enough, its dome is completely removed and punished.
Pakistan and other Muslim Country silence
Pakistan and other Muslim Country, which describes itself as the ‘All Weather Friend’ of China, is silent on China’s treatment of Muslims. This is probably due to Chinese investment in the Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a TV interview last year, was asked questions regarding the suppression of Muslims in China, and he had expressed ignorance on this. Imran’s answer was- “I don’t know about this on the situation.” In an atmosphere of trouble and despair, the Chinese are like a breath of fresh air. They have helped Pakistan in those areas which they want us to keep confidential. He has promised to revive Pakistan’s economy. I will not publicly criticize China. “
For the record, let us know that the so-called Chinese Special Economic Zones (SEZ) with CPEC has no infrastructure other than the accommodation of some drivers. These SEZ buildings, especially in Pak occupied Kashmir, are now occupied by the Chinese themselves. And the most surprising thing is that a mosque has been acquired in Sosta, whose dome used to be white, it was red.