The Dongguan mosque before construction (left) and after renovation (right) | Twitter and tripadvisor.in
The Dongguan mosque before construction (left) and after renovation (right) | tripadvisor.in and Twitter
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New Delhi: A big green dome and minarets have been removed from a 14th century mosque situated in Xining city in Qinghai province of China, transforming the structure into a regular building.

The discovery was made by Christina Scott, UK’s Deputy Mission Head in China, who noted that the 14th century Dongguan Great Mosque did not resemble the photograph in her four-year-old guide book.

“My (4 yr old) guide book getting out of date. Go to the Dongguan Great Mosque, it advises. So I do. Closed for renovations (which seem to have included removing the dome and minarets – photo from street-side of building in book),” tweeted Scott Monday.

In the photo that Scott posted, the mosque looks like a regular building with a Chinese flag hoisted within its premises.

The British diplomat also posted about another mosque in the area, Nanguan, which is also currently under renovation and in scaffolds.

“Meanwhile, down the road scaffolding going up fast on the Nanguan Mosque. Crescents removed. Maybe they’re giving the dome a clean?” she said.

Scott had also posted a similar tweet in October last year about another Nanguan mosque in Yinchuan. The domes and minarets were also removed from this mosque.


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Dongguan mosque under CCP control

According to a report in Bitter Winter, a magazine on human rights with special focus on China, Dongguan got a new imam in August 2018, after which there’s been a steep decline in the number of worshippers at the mosque.

According to local Muslims quoted in the report, the new imam Ma Yuexiang’s preachings aren’t consistent with the Quran, because of which many mosque regulars stopped praying there.

Since 2018, the Islamic studies course in Donuggan has also undergone significant change and has introduced subjects like ‘Political and Ideological Education’ and ‘Chinese History’ — which weren’t part of the syllabus earlier.

The changes made to the mosques in China are also being seen as part of the CCP’s policy on the “sinicisation of religion“.

At the 19th National Congress in 2019, the CCP had announced that the fundamental policy of sinicisiation of religion should be implemented in the country.

At the Congress, Li Keqiang, premier of the China’s State Council, said that the policy will help them tackle infiltration, subversion and sabotage as well as violent and terrorist activities, ethnic separatist activities and religious extremist activities.

According to a report in the Newlines magazine, some of these policies are targeted at making Islamic practices disappear from daily life.

Another example of this sinicisation has been the removal Islamic teachings in the Arabic language and the removal of Arabic signage from shops and restaurants. In 2018, the CCP in Xinjiang had said that practicing Islam is akin to a mental illness.

China has also been at the receiving of international condemnation because of its purported human rights violations against Uyghurs — a Muslim minority ethnic group based in the Xinjiang province.

The Uyghurs speak a Turkic language and more closely resemble the people of Central Asia than the majority Han Chinese.

(Edited by Rachel John)


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