China has passed a new law that seeks to “Sinicize” Islam within the next five years, the latest move by Beijing to rewrite how religion is practised in the country, the media reported on Sunday.
China’s leading English newspaper, Global Times, reported on Saturday that after a meeting with representatives from eight Islamic associations, government officials “agreed to guide Islam to be compatible with socialism and implement measures to ‘Sinicize’ the religion”, Aljazeera reported.
China has embarked on an aggressive “Sinification” campaign in recent years with faith groups that were largely tolerated in the past seeing their freedoms shrink under Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Practising Islam has been forbidden in parts of China, with individuals caught praying, fasting, growing a beard or wearing a hijab, facing the threat of arrest.
According to the UN, more than one million Uighur Muslims are estimated to be held in internment camps where they are forced to denounce the religion and pledge allegiance to the officially atheist ruling Communist Party.
Rights groups have accused China of engaging in a campaign of ethnic cleansing.
Nonetheless, China has rejected the criticism, saying it protects the religion and culture of its minorities.