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China pulls Arsenal game after player Ozil expressed support for Uyghur Muslims

China’s reaction to Ozil’s comments are yet another example of the country’s refusal to admit the truth of the horrifying reality for the Uyghur and ethnic Muslims of China.

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China’s reaction to Ozil’s comments are yet another example of the country’s refusal to admit the truth of the horrifying reality for the Uyghur and ethnic Muslims of China.

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, a German of Turkish background, has created waves both on and off the football field after posting on his Twitter account his support for the Uyghur Muslims in China, and condemnation of both China and other Muslim countries for failing to protect basic human rights. Posting in Turkish, Ozil commented:

Korans [Qurans] 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. The Muslims are silent. Their voice is not heard.”

In response to this, China has pulled a game between Arsenal and Manchester City from its state broadcaster CCTV, and have replaced Sunday’s Premier League game with a prerecorded game between Tottenham and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

China’s reaction to Ozil’s comments are yet another example of the country’s refusal to admit the truth of the horrifying reality for the Uyghur and ethnic Muslims of China. Estimated figures point towards 1 to 3 million mostly Uyghur Muslims held in concentration camps across China’s northwestern province of Xinjiang, with reports of arbitrary detentions, torture, forced sterilizations, mass rape, and even killings.

The entire state of Xinjiang has been reported to be heavily monitored and secured, with Uyghur Muslims banned from showing any sign of allegiance towards their religion. Having a beard, wearing a hijab, praying in public, or fasting during Ramadan are just a few examples of what can be constituted as grounds for being guilty in the eyes of the Chinese state.

Calling these concentration camps “re-education centers”, these camps are said to be the largest mass incarceration of peoples since the Holocaust itself. The recently leaked Xinjiang papers, smuggled out of China that exposed the inner workings of the state and its policies towards the Uyghur Muslims, highlight the horrifying reality for Muslims in China.

While China claims that these concentration camps and brutal suppression of Uyghur identity are all part of stemming dangerous foreign influences and possible extremism, many are calling this as it rightfully is: a genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Uyghur and ethnic Muslim minority in northwestern China.

As China continues to move with impunity in its human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims, it remains to be seen how long it will take the international community to wake up to these atrocities.

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