All Arabic, Muslim symbols to be taken down in Beijing
Beijing : In an effort to "Sinicize" its Muslim population, the Chinese authorities have asked the halal food restaurants and stalls to remove all Arabic symbols and scripts associated with the Islam.
News agency Reuters approached over 11 halal restaurants and food stalls to confirm if they have been asked by the authorities to go ahead with aforementioned order. They all agreed and mentioned that the officials had told them to remove images associated with Islam, such as the crescent moon and the word "halal" written in Arabic, from signs.
"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 comes as a new momentum to the drive that started in 2016 aiming at ensuring religions conform with mainstream Chinese culture.
China, home to 20 million Muslims, officially guarantees freedom of religion, but the government has campaigned to bring the faithful into line with Communist Party ideology.
It's not just Muslims who have come under scrutiny. Authorities have shut down many underground Christian churches, and torn down crosses of some churches deemed illegal by the government.
China, which lauded its move claiming that it helped in bringing down terrorism, has been criticized by the Western nations over its policies, in particular mass detentions and surveillance of Uighurs and other Muslims there.
China said its actions in Xinjiang are necessary to stamp out religious extremism.