A couple of days after the Deputy Governor (Investment Attraction and Development) of the Saudi Arabian General Investments Authority (SAGIA), Sultan Mufti, announced that a new chapter in Saudi-Chinese relations was being written during his recent visit to the Asian Nation, the concerned authorities in Beijing asked all shops and restaurants to cover up any Arabic signs or Islamic symbols!
The Local Government in Beijing recently issued a statement, saying that it made the move in order to help the Muslim Community adapt the Chinese Culture and Ideology, gradually. Immediately after the order was issued, representatives of a Global Media House talked to employees of 11 Restaurants, Cafes and Food Stalls, which serve Halal produce, in the Chinese capital. The employees confirmed that they recently received such an instruction from the Local Government, saying that they were told to remove not just the word Halal in Arabic, but also other Islamic symbols, like the crescent moon. A Manager of a Restaurant, who wished to remain anonymous, stressed: “They said this is foreign culture and you should use more Chinese culture.”
As expected, the move has shocked the Muslim Community in China. An employee at a Halal butchers said that the Chinese authorities actually want to erase the Islamic Culture. “They are always talking about National Unity. They are always talking about China being International. Is this National Unity?” he asked.
Currently, there are around 1,000 shops and restaurants in and around Beijing, offering Halal food. While some of them have replaced the Arabic Halal signs with the Chinese characters, others simply covered the Islamic symbols. So far, the anti-Muslim crackdown has been most severe in Xinjiang Province, considered as home of the Uighur Muslim minority. The Chinese Armed Forces have detained nearly two million Uighurs and sent them to re-education camps in an attempt to ‘Sinicise’ those people! The Muslims believe that the Cultural Crackdown will begin soon in Xinjiang…
Darren Byler, a Senior Anthropologist at the University of Washington and an Expert on Xinjiang, said that the Communist Party of China considers the Islamic Culture and Arabic as foreign influences that motivate the Uighur people to launch a separatist movement. “It is also seen as connected to international forms of piety, or in the eyes of state authorities, religious extremism. They want Islam in China to operate primarily through Chinese language,” explained the anthropologist.
Meanwhile, senior official of China’s National Ethnic Affairs Commission Zha Xi has assured the Global Community that Muslims would remain ‘safe’ in the Asian nation. He insisted that the Constitution protects the rights of All Minority Groups, adding that the Local Government in Beijing is carefully handling the ‘Halal Regulation’. Unfortunately, Zha’s assurance is not enough to convince the international community (especially the Arab World), which is of the opinion that the expunging of Arabic and Islamic signs is a softer part of China’s attack on Islam!
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