Beijing : Authorities in the Chinese capital have ordered halal restaurants and food stalls to remove Arabic script and symbols associated with Islam from their signs, part of an expanding national effort to “Sinicize” its Muslim population.
Employees at 11 restaurants and shops in Beijing selling halal products and visited by Reuters in recent days said officials had told them to remove images associated with Islam, such as the crescent moon and the word “halal” written in Arabic, from signs.
Government workers from various offices told one manager of a Beijing noodle shop to cover up the “halal” in Arabic on his shop’s sign, and then watched him do it.
“They said this is foreign culture and you should use more Chinese culture,” said the manager, who, like all restaurant owners and employees who spoke to Reuters, declined to give his name due to the sensitivity of the issue.
This campaign marks a new phase of a drive that has gained momentum since 2016, aimed at ensuring religious conform with mainstream Chinese culture. It will also remove Middle Eastern-style domes on many mosques around the country in favour of Chinese-style pagodas.
The government has campaigned to bring the faithful into line with Communist Party ideology although China, a home to 20 million Muslims, officially guarantees freedom of religion.
The government says its actions in Xinjiang are necessary to stamp out religious extremism. Officials have warned about creeping Islamisation, and have extended tighter controls over other Muslim minorities.