Local residents captured images of the mosque’s demolition work and posted them on social media defying an official ban
The Lanzhou Xiguan Mosque is seen in this file image. The authorities have reportedly demolished parts of this 17th-century mosque to replace its Arabian-style architecture with Chinese characteristics. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Authorities in communist China’s northwestern Gansu province have secretly demolished parts of a world-famous 17th-century mosque in order to replace its Arabic-style structure with Chinese characteristics, says a report.
The authorities planned the “sinicization” of the Lanzhou Xiguan Mosque in 2020 and demolition work started in August, Bitter Winter reported on Sept. 18.
Sinicization is a political ideology promoted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) which seeks every individual and institute strictly adhere to the socialist principles and express loyalty to the communist leadership.
Local residents have captured images of the Xiguan mosque’s demolition work and posted them on social media defying an official order not to discuss the matter, the report stated.
Over the past years, the Communist regime has intensified a crackdown on religious groups and ethnic minorities including Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
Under the controversial sinicization policy, the authorities have forcibly demolished hundreds of crosses in churches for allegedly not having Chinese characteristics.
Mosques across China have been “sinicized” to ensure that “a mosque would not look like a mosque,” Bitter Winter reported.
The plan has been carefully conceived and carried out. Initially, internationally famous mosques were originally spared due to potential protests from Muslim-majority nations who were already angry over China’s persecution of Uyghur Muslims.
The plan to sinicize the mosque triggered protests from local Muslims, prompting the suspension.
However, the highest leadership of the CCP has reportedly decided to risk China's international image by sinicizing prominent Muslim worship places.
Recently, the authorities sinicized the famed Shadian Mosque in Yunnan province despite violent protests from local Muslims.
After the Shadian Mosque's sinicization, the Xiguan Mosque remained the last important Muslim place of worship spared from the state campaign.
Xiguan Mosque is located in the city of Lanzhou, the capital and largest city of Gansu province, and was originally built between the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century under the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was extensively renovated twice during the Qing Dynasty rule (1644-1911).
The communist forces completely destroyed the mosque during the Cultural Revolution spearheaded by Mao Zedong.
It was rebuilt on the same site in 1990, with the approval and funding of the Religious Affairs Bureau of the State Council of China, Bitter Winter reported. The reconstruction project also received funds from the World Islamic Union.
The mosque became a source of pride for Gansu Muslims and a popular tourist destination.
Academics in Gansu reported to Voice of America that they have been summoned by university authorities and told that criticizing and even mentioning the vandalization of Xiguan Mosque online and offline is prohibited, Bitter Winter reported.
Those who breach the prohibition would risk losing their job or worse. The same prohibition applies to the general population, they said.
China has been regularly ranked among the worst offenders of religious freedom or belief by human rights groups for its relentless oppression of religious groups.
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