China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, on Monday, has said that Arsenal's star player, Mesut Ozil has been a victim of fake news and has requested the former German international to visit Xinjiang to see the place himself. The comments come a day after the state-run China Central Television (CCTV) did not broadcast Arsenal's match against Manchester City.
As per reports from a news agency, Geng said that as long as Ozil had some common sense, can make a clear distinction between right and wrong, and upholds the principles of objectivity and fairness, he will see a different Xinjiang. Geng further said that Xinjiang enjoyed political stability, economic development, national unity, social harmony, and people lived and worked there in peace and contentment.
On December 13, Mesut Ozil, Arsenal's highest earner and star player posted a message on his social media handles speaking about the atrocities committed by China on Uighurs in Xinjiang and how Muslim countries have not done enough to speak up. 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 British football club, in order to avoid a fallout similar to NBA-China fallout, immediately released a statement on Chinese social media website Weibo to distance the club from the comments made by Ozil. As per reports in Britsh press, 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."
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.