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Initiative for The Sinicization of Islam

The PRC, which has based its foundation philosophy entirely on being anti-religion, tells the world that they provide everyone the freedom to have religious belief as stated in the constitution in order to get the support of its own public opinion and to reduce the negative reactions from the international community. While the Beijing government puts out the message that “everyone can believe in whatever they want”, they are concurrently rapidly reducing the visibility of religion in daily life. As stated before, here the Chinese Communist Party also aims to reshape religious beliefs in parallel with the spread of the rhetoric of “you can believe but not worship”.

Communist Chinese regime intends to change all major religions while creating its own ruling legacy. President Xi gave the first indication of this in 2015, by bringing the “Sinification of Islam” to the agenda. After a long preparation period, at the beginning of 2019, the Chinese authorities aimed to sinificate Islam in 5 years. In the news published on January 4 in Global Times, which is under the guidance of Beijing, it was announced that a meeting was held with the participation of Muslim representatives. According to the news, it was discussed how to harmonize Islam with Chinese norms at this meeting and an official made a statement that “It is important for the Muslim community to improve their political stance and to follow the party leadership”. Moreover, this meeting was held a few days after three mosques were raided and more than 40 people were arrested in Yunnan province, where Muslims are the majority. According to David Stroup from the University of Oklahoma, who evaluated the meeting to the German broadcaster DW, Beijing’s goal is to control religion in all areas. This control covers a wide area up to determining the content of the weekly sermons of imams. According to the point emphasized by academic Hauyin Ma, here the aim is to cut the relations of Muslims living there with other Islamic countries and to isolate them. President Xi also mentioned this issue at the meeting where the East Turkistan issue was discussed and he said “We must continue to Sinification of Islam to maintain the healthy development of religion.

As part of this forced change program, the Beijing government demands that imams working in mosques receive permanent political education. According to the information given by an imam from Qinghai province to the Bitterwin- ter broadcasting regime, these training cover Chinese history and Chinese po- licies and last about 10 days. At the end of the training, everyone gets their certificate after writing an article. The following words of the Imam reveal how communist doctrine was injected into Islam: “I have many certificates. The government carries out brainwashing activities through professors. They want us to tell the community what is taught in education in the mosque. “On the other hand, imams are closely followed by state officials and if they do not express their doctrines in sermons, they are punished. An imam, who works in Sanmenxia, Henan Region, conveys that they should advertise the Chinese Communist Party ideology and tell their congregation that they should obey the party’s committees, by saying “Every day we have to say Communist Party is beautiful.”

While it is clear that the Quran has preserved its original form until to- day, one of the targets of the Chinese Communist regime, which wants to completely erase the traces of Islam in its own land, was the Holy Book of Muslims. The Xi administration, which wanted to sinificate Islam, attempted to rewrite the Quran. New decisions were taken on November 2019, at the conference held by the Committee for Ethnic and Religious Affairs of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which oversees ethnic and religious issues in China, about the Sinicization of religions such as Islam and Christianity. According to the news in various media organizations, it was decided to “rewrite the holy books such as the Holy Quran and the Bible in a way that “these religious systems would be in accordance with the characteristics of China.” The committee noted that the Bible should not contain anything against the ideology of the Communist Party after rewriting it. Farid Hafez of the Georgetown University Bridge Institute, one of the leading universities in America, made the following assessment on this subject: “In the context of a totalitarian politics, we are faced with an iron-fisted government in China to enforce its own order.” (47) No explanation has been made to deny these allegations.

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