ucanews.com reporter, Hong KongUpdated: March 27, 2018 10:03 AM GMT
A crane removes Arabic decorations from buildings in Yinchuan in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. (Photo from internet)
Chinese Islam must adhere to official Sinicization policies by conforming to cultural norms, according to the government-linked Islamic Association of China.
Association chairman Yang Faming stressed this on March 10 at the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
A Hong Kong newspaper reported Yang as saying negative outside influences on Islam in China interfered with secular society.
Some people paid more attention to religion than national laws, labeling themselves solely as believers rather than citizens, Yang said.
Two days later, photos were circulated via the internet showing the removal of domes and religious motifs from mosques in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region of northern China.
Regional centers where action was taken against religious deviations from official dictates included Zhongwei, Yinchuan and Wuzhong.
For example, new religious affairs regulations that came into effect nationwide on Feb. 1 were subsequently acted upon by Communist Party officials in Da Zhanchang town, Zhongwei City.
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 decorations are of Middle Eastern origin, including elaborate geometric designs, stylized Arabic script and the ubiquitous crescent moon and star.
Mosques were further 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, were banned from entering mosques to study, including during vacations.
Clerics were told they had to register their residential addresses as well as providing personal details and documentation.
A prohibition was imposed on the use of loudspeakers for calls to prayer and Koranic recitations.
Some restrictions also came into effect in the second half of 2017.
Netizens in Yinchuan shared photos of a crane being used to dismantle elements of Islamic buildings deemed to breach the Sinicization directive.
Arab-style buildings were to be converted into Chinese-style pavilions.
In addition, all shops in Yinchuan were required to replace an Arabic "halal food" logo with one employing Chinese characters and Roman alphabet Pinyin.
It was reported Yinchuan had been ordered to drop the word "Muslim" when promoting itself as a trading center.
Halal signs as well as Arabic Islamic motifs, including the crescent moon and star, were also replaced in Wuzhong City.
Intensified Sinicization measures had already been implemented in far-western Xinjiang, where Turkic-speaking Islamic militants resist largely ethnic-Han Chinese rule.
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.