Arsenal Muslim midfielder Mesut Özil took to social media Friday to support the persecuted Uyghur Muslim minority in China, criticizing Muslim countries for failing to speak out for them, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
“Korans are being burnt … Mosques are being shut down
… Muslim schools are being banned … Religious scholars are being killed one
by one … Brothers are forcefully being sent to camps,” Ozil wrote in
Turkish on his Twitter account.
“The Muslims are silent. Their voice is not
heard,” he wrote on a background of a blue field with a white crescent moon,
the flag of occupied East Turkestan.
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) December 13, 2019
Özil had added his voice to the wave of international
outrage about the treatment of the Uyghurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority
who have been subjected to a campaign of religious and ethnic persecution by the
His message, also uploaded to Instagram, read: “East
Turkistan, the bleeding wound of the Ummah, resisting against the persecutors
trying to separate them from their religion. They burn their Qurans. They shut
down their mosques. They ban their schools. They kill their holy men. The men
are forced into camps and their families are forced to live with Chinese men.
The women are forced to marry Chinese men.
“But Muslims are silent. They won’t make a noise. They have
abandoned them. Don’t they know that giving consent for persecution is
Many refer to China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region — home to many ethnic minorities, including the Turkic Uyghur people — as East Turkestan.
China has faced growing international condemnation for
setting up a vast network of camps in Xinjiang aimed at homogenizing the Uighur
population to reflect China’s majority Han culture.
According to several reports by media and rights groups, more
than one million Uyghurs and people of other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities
have been rounded up in the camps in the tightly-controlled region.
In its 117-page report, “‘Eradicating Ideological
Viruses’: China’s Campaign of Repression Against Xinjiang’s Muslims,” Human
Rights Watch presented new evidence of the Chinese government’s mass arbitrary
detention, torture, and mistreatment, and the increasingly pervasive controls
on daily life.
After initially denying the camps existed, China describes them as vocational schools aimed at dampening the allure of Islamist extremism and violence.
Arsenal moved to distance themselves from Özil’s comments in
a bid to limit fallout in China, where the club has numerous commercial
“The content published is Özil’s personal
opinion,” the club said in a Chinese language post Saturday on its official
account on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.
“As a football club, Arsenal has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics.
Mesut Özil, 30, is Arsenal’s top attacking midfielder and
winger who hails from Turkey but plays for the German national team.
He played for Schalke 04, Werder Bremen, and Real Madrid where he won a countless number of different trophies. He was also a key contributor to Germany’s winning of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The German Muslim star is known for offering a dua
(supplication) or prayer during football matches – especially after scoring a
goal or a victory.