China is developing a five-year plan for the “sinicization” of Islam, according to the country’s government-backed China Islamic Association.
Representatives from local Islamic associations from eight provinces and regions, including Beijing, Shanghai, Hunan, Yunnan, and Qinghai, discussed the plan at a meeting on Saturday, according to a report on the association’s official website.
The plan will focus on requiring mosques to to uphold “core values of socialism, traditional culture, laws and regulations,” Association president Yang Faming told the meeting, which was organized by the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, which is tasked with co-opting groups and individuals outside the party to endorse its message.
Mosques will be told to “guide, mobilize and inspire” Chinese Muslims with lectures and training sessions on such topics, and which uphold the spirit of a sinicized Islam by using examples of notable figures, Yang said.
The move comes after Chinese authorities in the southwestern province of Yunnan raided and forcibly evicted local ethnic minority Hui Muslims from three mosques at the end of last month, saying they were engaged in “illegal religious activities.”
Local Hui Muslims blamed the crackdown on the local Islamic Association’s compliance with government directives.
U.S.-based Muslim student activist Sulaiman Gu said the “sinicization” program had been designed to target Hui Muslims in particular.
“The sinicization of Islam is mostly targeted at Hui Muslims,” Gu told RFA on Monday. “[They] know very well that there’s no point in using the rhetoric of anti-terrorism or separatism to justify it, but it’s still a form of cultural genocide.”
“The cultural genocide of the Hui Muslims is nothing new: it’s been a core government policy,” he said. “About 60 years ago, they persecuted the Hui scholarly elite, and started a campaign to raise pigs among the Hui.”
Gu said a period of relative peace had ensued for the Hui Muslims, but likened it to a frog sitting in warm water that will eventually boil.
“Now they are just adding logs to the fire,” he said.