In a controversial move, Chinese authorities have renamed a river in China because the old name sounded too ‘Islamic’. The move is being seen as part of a series of efforts to reduce Islamic influence in some parts of the country.
The Aiyi river flows in the Ningxia region of China. Though Aiyi is a Chinese word, many claimed that the name resembled ‘Ayisha’, the name of one of Prophet Mohammad’s wives. Chinese authorities, however, recently changed the name to give it a more Chinese, less Islamic name. The river is now called Diannong, an old name for the capital of Ningxia, a region with one of the highest Muslim populations in the country, the Global Times reported.
Ningxia is densely populated with Hui Muslims, with about 2 million of them living in the region, making it one of the most densely populated Muslim regions in mainland China. According to authorities, the change was made on the basis of a 2013 regulation passed by Ningxia government that promulgated that no public spaces could be named after foreign figures. The Hui Mulims make up about 10 million of the 21 million Muslim population in China.They are generally descendants of Arabic and Central Asian travelers, Al Jazira reported.
According to a Ningxia University Institute of Hui Studies professor Wang Genming, the renaming is not an isolated act. In fact, Genming told the Global Times, that changes are steadily being made to weaken the Islamic and Arabic influence on the region. He said that over 800 books about Hui Muslims and their history has been taken off shelves recently, and the decor of several buildings in the region changed so as to eliminate the Islamic influence.
In March, a road named “China-Arab axis “China-Arab axis” was renamed ‘Unity Road’. With the recent name-change, many on social media could not help but comment on the incident:
River Aiyi has its name changed by China because it sounds suspiciously like the name Aysha, apparently.. ♂️ Chinese Islamophobia is getting out of hand. https://t.co/RDCjYf9R1i
— Tallha Abdulrazaq س (@thewarjournal) October 2, 2018
Ningxia, home to the majority of China’s Hui Muslims, renamed the Aiyi river, named after Ayisha, one of Prophet Mohammed’s wives. The new name is Diannong, which is the ancient name for Yinchuan, the current capital of Ningxia. Minimizing the Muslim influence. Religion excludes. pic.twitter.com/1B1yzFAvNf
— Devi Rhamesz (@ChrliesWarchest) September 29, 2018
This is as stupid as if the US renamed Massachusetts because it’s Native American-sounding. https://t.co/PejoV2mXQ3
— Melissa Chan (@melissakchan) September 27, 2018