Pingliang Arabic School, a charity that caters to underprivileged students, has been told by city education officials to close by December 17 and send its 200 students and 20 teachers home.
Officials claim the school does not have the operational permits it needs although it has been in business since 1984. Pingliang is a small city on the border between Gansu and Shaanxi province – one of China’s poorest areas.
“It seems that the officials are not interested in talking to us at all,” said a teacher who requested anonymity.
In an effort to save the school from closure, teachers last week sent a petition containing more than 1,000 signatures to the education bureau.
The demise of Arabic language schools is a symptom of Beijing’s increased control of Muslim-populated regions and was urged on by a call three years ago from President Xi Jinping to “Sinicise religions”, assimilating them with traditional Chinese culture and socialist values.