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Believers in Hong Kong Mosque “Shocked” by Patriotic Flag Ceremonies, Reports Radio Free Asia

Muslims at Hong Kong’s largest Kowloon Mosque conducted formal ceremonies in July and October of this year to raise the Chinese national flag, marking the city’s handover to China in 1997 and China’s National Day. While some believers view this as a challenge to the supremacy of God in Islam, only a few feel safe enough to express their concerns due to fear of political backlash and community pressure. These ceremonies coincide with increased control over religious sites by the Chinese Communist Party, which requires religious venues to support the Party’s leadership and its plan to “sinicize” religious activities. Hong Kong Muslim leaders have acknowledged a growing relationship with Chinese officials over the past 18 months, who have suggested patriotic displays like flag-raising ceremonies. These ceremonies, attended by community leaders, imams, officials from Beijing, and local government officials, have generated disappointment and shock among some Muslims who believe it compromises their religion and forces them to choose between their faith and political correctness. Despite differences of opinion within the Muslim community, there is an expectation for unity and efforts to convince dissenting voices. The Chinese flag’s presence in a mosque is seen as problematic by some because it represents the power and authority of an atheist state that contradicts Islamic principles. However, some Muslims support Beijing’s attempt to promote patriotism within the community, believing that being a patriot does not conflict with being a good Muslim. Hong Kong’s Muslim leaders have faced criticism for aligning themselves with Beijing, which has silenced dissent and misled the community. Many Muslims are afraid to speak out due to internal community pressure and the potential legal consequences under the National Security Law.

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