Part of Sichuan Mosque to be Leased for Disco and Bar

March 21, 2005

The Sichuan Islamic Association and the Guangyuan Mosque Management Committee have signed a ten-year contract to convert the first two floors of the Guangyuan Mosque in Sichuan into the "Arabian Nights Discotheque and Bar," according to a posting on the Crescent Review, a major Chinese-language Islamic Web site. The religious leadership reportedly told worshippers that neither the Koran nor the Hadith proscribe such an arrangement, and that the move was necessary to repay the mosque's heavy debt. The Communist Party must approve all clergy and high-ranking religious administrators, who must also register with the state. The person posting to the Web site writes that mosque members are "crying tears of humiliation" and many are "giving up hope in despair."

A national "Ethnic Unity and Advancement Campaign" launched in April 2004 encourages religious organizations to become self-sufficient, while simultaneously limiting collections from religious practitioners. A September 8, 2004, report in the Xining Qinghai News boasts that "since the start of the ethnic unity and advancement campaign, the Great Mosque of Dongguan in Xining has never asked financial support from its believers at the time of worship service," and instead has "expanded the area of operations, offering more places to be leased out to vendors, and set a standard admission fee to be collected from visitors."