Beijing is reportedly targeting Arabic script on the city’s many Muslim restaurants. Reuters reports, via Al Jazeera:
Authorities in the Chinese capital 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 said officials told them to remove images associated with Islam, such as the crescent moon and the word “halal” written in Arabic, from their 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, declined to give his name because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The campaign against Arabic script and Islamic images marks a new phase of a drive that has gained momentum since 2016, aimed at ensuring religions conform to mainstream Chinese culture.
In other news of repression of Muslims:
The new story from Beijing that 90 percent of Muslims locked up in Xinjiang concentration camps have been released has been reported, but not believed, by Slate, Al Jazeera, and Reuters (via the Guardian).
A spokeswoman for the US state department said there was no evidence to support the assertion made by Xinjiang’s vice chairman Alken Tuniaz and said Beijing should allow the United Nations high commissioner for human rights unhindered access to assess the claim.
Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Asia regional director, said the claims were “deceptive and unverifiable.”
“We have received no reports about large-scale releases,” he said. “In fact, families and friends of people who are being detained tell us they are still not able to contact them.”
Finally: “My brush with surveillance in Xinjiang” is the title of a piece by Yuan Yang in the Financial Times. Snippet:
Immediately, three women’s faces came up on her screen. The top one was an old visa-application photo of mine that I could barely remember having been taken. Clicking through to it showed her my full passport information. The officer was pleased with the result, remarking on how quick it was.