In the ongoing project to “Sinicize” Islam in China, a large mosque has been completely transformed by the Chinese government, removing all signs of Islam. The Nanguan Mosque in Yinchuan, the capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, is the largest mosque in the province. But now, it does not look like a mosque at all, as the large building has been completely changed by the Communist government.
Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is the home to the largest community of Hui Muslims in China, and it has been a major target of the ‘Sinicize Islam’ project of the Chinese Communist Party. In the last two years, numerous mosques have lost their domes and minarets, the distinguishing features of any mosque. In the latest such development, all signs of Islam have been removed from the Nanguam Mosque. The mosque was built during the late Ming dynasty (1368-1644), and was later restored in 1981. It is one of the most revered Mosques for Muslims in the region.
Latest images of the mosque show that all the five bright green coloured domes and the golden minarets have been removed. The golden Islamic style filigree, decorative arches, and the test in Arabic scripts on the mosque have been pulled down. The bright golden and green coloured mosque with onion shaped domes and Islamic style curved windows have transformed into a grey colored rectangular structure. It now has Nanguan Mosque in Chinese, as all Arabic text has been removed.
The latest images of the mosque were posted by Christina Scott, the UK’s deputy head of mission in China, on Twitter. She wrote, “TripAdvisor suggested the Nanguan Mosque in #Yinchuan well worth a visit. Only this is what it looks like now, after ‘renovations’. Domes, minarets, all gone. No visitors allowed either, of course. So depressing.”
As can be seen, the mosque now looks like a modern shopping complex, with all signs of Islam removed from it.
Onion shaped domes and other Islamic style decorative elements are being removed from most mosques in the region, including the neighbouring Gansu province. Linxia city in the province is known as “Little Mecca” as it has been a centre of Islamic faith in China.
The transformation was expedited after a recent visit to the city by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who had scolded officials for being slow in Sinicizing Islamic structures. Xi Jinping indicated during the visit that “Ningxia has made some achievements in religious reform, but it was not thorough enough.” Meaning, the work should be intensified. The president visited the region on June 6-8, and the demolition activities picked up soon after that. By June 26, the five green domes and the minarets from the mosque were gone, and the rest work was completed soon.
Despite unhappy with this, the Imams and local Muslims could not do anything about it, and they even didn’t express their dissatisfaction for fear of the tyranny of the government. A resident in the town said, “This campaign was ordered by the central government. An official told us that mosques should not be so grand and magnificent.”
According to reports, the Coronavirus pandemic has given the Chinese govt the opportunity to expediting the process of Sinicizing mosques in the nation. Giving the excuse of the pandemic, the govt has kept many mosques closed, and the demolition of the mosques have accelerated, where the domes, minarets and other Islamic symbols have been removed from the mosques.