Arsenal player, Mezut Ozil, has expressed disappointment at Arsenal’s response to his comments about the persecution of Uighur Muslims in China.
In December 2019, he took to social media to speak out against China’s treatment of the Uighur population in the north-western region of Xinjiang, where reportedly over a million people have been detained in prison camps.
Ozil’s posts read: “Oh East Turkestan! The bleeding wound of the Ummah. The community of fighters who resist persecution. The glorious believers who are fighting alone against those who try to forcibly take them away from Islam.
“Qurans are burned, mosques are closed, madrassas are banned, religious scholars are killed one by one.
“The brothers are forced into the camps. Chinese men are settled in their families instead of them. The sisters are forced to marry Chinese men.
“Despite all this, the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad is silent. Muslims are not supported. Don’t they know that consenting to persecution is persecution?”
At the time, Arsenal swiftly released a statement on Weibo, a leading Chinese social media site, as well as other platforms stressing that the club is apolitical, distancing themselves from Ozil’s posts.
“Regarding the comments made by Mesut Özil on social media, Arsenal must make a clear statement,” it read. “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.”
In an interview for The Atheltic, Ozil revealed that he found Arsenal’s reaction and claims of apoliticality disappointing considering the club had recently supported Black Lives Matter.
“They said they don’t get involved in politics but this isn’t politics and they have got involved in other issues. In America, we saw George Floyd killed and the world spoke up to say Black Lives Matter, and that is correct.
“We are all equal and it’s a good thing that people fight against injustice.”
“But I wish people would have done the same for the Muslims because Arsenal have many Muslim players and fans as well, and it is important for the world to say that Muslim lives matter.”