Arsenal has released a statement on Chinese social media website Weibo to distance the club from the comments made by star player and highest earner Mesut Ozil. Ozil, on his social media, posted a message highlighting the atrocities committed by China on Uighurs in Xinjiang and how Muslim countries have not done enough to speak up.
The club is present on multiple social media websites and has millions of followers online. However, the statement was released only on the Weibo. As per reports in a leading news daily in the UK, the statement read, "Regarding the comments made by Mesut Özil on social media, Arsenal must make a clear statement. The content published is Özil’s personal opinion. As a football club, Arsenal has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics."
The post on his social media 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 persecution itself?”
The club clearing the air on the issue is hypocritical in nature since a few days ago, in the run-up to the British General Elections, defender Hector Bellerin tweeted asking people to vote and at the end of the tweet, used an expletive towards Boris Johnson. The club had not released a statement then.
China has faced growing international condemnation for setting up a vast network of camps in Xinjiang aimed at homogenising the Uighur population to reflect China's majority Han culture. Rights groups and experts say more than one million Uighurs and people of other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities have been rounded up in the camps in the tightly-controlled region.
After initially denying the camps existed, China describes them as vocational schools aimed at dampening the allure of Islamist extremism and violence. Turkey, which takes its name from Turkic people who migrated from central Asia, is home to Uighur community and has regularly raised concerns about the situation in Xinjiang.