DHARAMSALA, 19 Dec: Arsenal FC’s star player Mesut Ozil, after facing a backlash and ban from China over his criticism over their treatment of Uighur Muslim found a supporter in the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Reiterating China’s gross human rights violation, the US Secretary of State tweeted in support for the footballer.
“China’s Communist Party propaganda outlets can censor @MesutOzil1088 and @Arsenal’s games all season long, but the truth will prevail,” Pompeo said in a tweet.
On December 13, in an Instagram post, Ozil, a German Muslim of Turkish origin has criticised Beijing for its ongoing human rights abuses and persecution of Uighur Muslims and berated fellow Muslims for failing to speak up.
“[In China] Qurans are burned, mosques were closed down, Islamic theological schools, madrasas were banned, religious scholars were killed one by one. Despite all this, Muslims stay quiet,” read footballers common translated by The Guardian.
Following his criticism, the player faced backlash from China Chinese for ‘hurting their feelings’ with hostile comments online and his jerseys being burned in the streets.
Arsenal FC was quick to distance themselves from Ozil’s comments, saying the club “always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics” while China’s state broadcaster swiftly cancelled a planned airing of a game between Arsenal and Manchester City on 15 Dec.
Additionally, ESPN citing a source at Chinese Central Television has said that there is little prospect of Arsenal’s games being shown in the country for the foreseeable future if Ozil remains at the club.
Meanwhile, the star footballer has now been removed from Konami’s eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) 2020 computer game in China over his comments about the country’s treatment of its Uighur Muslims.
While UN experts and activists say at least one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in the detention centres in East Turkistan, earlier today, China’s ambassador to Australia has called such reports “fake news”, seeking to excuse mass incarceration as a deradicalisation measure, The Guardians reported.