China Continues Crackdown on Muslims
Authorities in Beijing have reportedly ordered halal eateries to remove Arabic script and any Islam-related symbols from their signs, the latest move in an expanding government effort to “Sinicize” China’s Muslim population. The campaign marks a new phase in the Communist government’s bid to ensure that religious individuals conform to mainstream Chinese culture. According to the Reuters news agency, it includes replacing Middle Eastern-style domes on mosques with Chinese-style pagodas. China is home to approximately 20 million Muslims, up to 2 million of them Uyghurs who remain detained in the western Xinjiang region. The United Nations has described the detention facilities there as a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy,” replete with Orwellian-like surveillance practices, armed police checkpoints, re-education centers and the bulk collection of DNA. Earlier this month, 22 mostly Western countries initiated the first major collective challenge to China’s suppression of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities. In a joint statement to the High Commissioner of the UN’s Human Rights Council, the nations criticized Beijing over “disturbing reports of large-scale arbitrary detentions” and “widespread restrictions.” A day later, 37 other states submitted their own letter defending China’s human rights record. Nearly half of the signatories were reportedly Muslim-majority nations including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Qatar and Pakistan. Many attribute the acquiescence by Muslim countries to China’s economic clout and its growing investments in the Middle East.