The support of Arsenal Mesut Özil's midfielder for the Uighurs of Xinjiang has not gone unnoticed in China. In reprisal for his comments, the Chinese public channel CCTV has decided to withdraw from its programming the English Premier League match between the Gunners and Manchester City, scheduled for Sunday at 4.30 p.m. GMT.
Mesut Özil, a German international international of Turkish origin, condemned Friday on social networks the repression of China against this Muslim minority locked up in internment camps. He also criticized Muslim countries for not denouncing it.
"Korans are burned ... Mosques destroyed ... Islamic schools banned ... Religious intellectuals killed one after the other ... Brothers sent by force to camps", he was indignant in a message posted in Turkish on Twitter and Instagram.
# HayırlıCumalarDoğuTürkistan 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/dJgeK4KSIk- Mesut Özil (@ MesutOzil1088) December 13, 2019
"The Muslims remain silent. We cannot hear their voices," he added in his message, with the flag of what the Uyghur separatists call East Turkestan in the background.
No policy for Arsenal
Arsenal distanced itself from Mesut Özil's comments on Saturday, saying the club "has always adhered to the principle of not getting involved in politics".
The number 10 Gunners, 31, has come closer in recent years to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, head of one of the few countries with a Muslim majority critical of the treatment of Uighurs in China. Photos of Mesut Özil alongside the strong man from Ankara had created a controversy in Germany in the run-up to the 2018 World Cup.
Human rights organizations and experts accuse Beijing of interning up to a million Muslims, mainly Uighurs, in Xinjiang in political re-education camps.
Beijing, who denies this figure, speaks of "vocational training centers", intended to help the population find a job and keep them away from the temptation of Islamism and terrorism.
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