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‘Sinification of Islam’: China removes masjid’s domes & minarets

‘Sinification of Islam’: China removes masjid’s domes & minarets

Pictures of Shadian Mosque, Old and New.

Beijing: In China, the last of the major Muslim mosques, the Grand Mosque of Shadian, lost its Arabic style of architectural features, such as its domes and minarets. This change to mosques in the country is part of the government’s process of sinicisation of places of worship of Muslims in the country, The Guardian reported.

Sinicisation refers to assimilating non-Chinese cultures into Chinese.

The Shadian mosque is one of the largest and grandest mosques, towering over the small town of Shadianzhen in the southwestern Yunnan province.

A year ago, the 21,000 square metre masjid structure was a large building with a green tiled dome which featured a crescent moon. The dome was flanked by four smaller domes and soaring minarets. It had an entrance pavilion with a large decorated crescent moon and star.

Now, the roof has been replaced with a Han Chinese-style pagoda rooftop, and the minarets have been shortened and converted into pagoda towers. Only a less identifiable trace of the crescent moon and stars are visible now on the masjid’s rooftop.

Less than 100 miles away from Shadian, another mosque situated in Najiaying was also modified recently, robbing of its Islamic features.

It was in 2018 that the Chinese government passed a five-year plan for “signification of Islam”, intended to remove “foreign architectural styles” and to promote “Islamic architecture … that is full of Chinese characteristics,” The Guardian quoted. Local authorities were instructed to “adhere to the principle of demolishing more and building less”.

An expert in anthropology at Cornell University, Ruslan Yusupov, said that the sinicisation of the two landmark mosques was the success of the Chinese administration’s campaign. Yusupov added that local communities in small villages also could not contest the sinicisation process of small mosques in their villages.

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