Arsenal star Mesut Ozil slams silence of Muslim community in heartfelt prayer for Uighurs

Arsenal star Mesut Ozil slams silence of Muslim community in heartfelt prayer for Uighurs
Football star Mesut Ozil shared a heartfelt prayer for the Uighur Muslims suffering in China, writing: 'Oh Lord, please help our brothers and sisters in East Turkestan.'

3 min read
13 December, 2019
Mesut Ozil of Arsenal shared a prayer for the Uighur minority in China [Getty]
German-Turkish football player Mesut Ozil shared a heartfelt prayer for the Uighur Muslim minority in China on Thursday, expressing his outrage at the lack of action from Muslim countries.

"The Muslim community is mute," Ozil wrote in the tweet, which shared a sincere prayer written in Turkish over the blue Uighur flag.

The Uighur community in Xinjiang, northwest China, has faced an unprecedented crackdown in recent years, with at least one million mostly Muslim ethnic minorities held in internment camps that authorities downplay as "vocational education centres".

Ozil, a German national with Turkish family roots, began his prayer with: "Oh East Turkestan," the name Uighur activists use for the independent state they want to see established in Xinjiang.

"Don't they know that years later what our brothers and sisters will remember of these bitter days is not the torture of the oppressors but the silence of their Muslim brothers?" the football star asked.

"Oh Lord, please help our brothers and sisters in East Turkestan."

The 31-year-old Arsenal midfielder slammed the silence of Muslim countries, and said it was shameful compared to the media coverage the issue has received in the West.

"They are burning Qur'ans, they are closing mosques, they are banning madrasas [religious schools], religious leaders are being killed one by one, they are forcing our brothers into camps and in their places they are placing Chinese men with the families, forcing sisters to marry them," he wrote, listing a series of alleged human rights abuses by the Chinese government.

"Despite all this, the Muslim community is mute."

Read more: Male Chinese officials sleep in same bed as women Uighur hosts during 'monitoring' visits

The international community has largely been silent on the issue and Muslim countries were among thirty-seven states which cosigned a letter in the United Nations defending China's treatment of Uighur Muslims in July.

Turkey was one of the region's few voices willing to risk its economic relationship with China by expressing support for the Uighur cause.

But recently President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has struck a softer tone, saying a solution could be found to help thousands of Uighur Muslims interned in Chinese camps "taking into account the sensitivities" of both sides.

China initially denied the existence of these camps, but now claims that its detention centres are not concentration camps but "re-education camps" where "students" are trained to successfully reintegrate into Chinese society. It claims the camps are a necessary measure to counter Islamic extremism.

Read more: Uighur Muslims using TikTok to expose plight of relatives detained by China

Human rights groups say that Uighurs and other Muslim minorities endure political indoctrination at these camps.

Earlier this year, detained Uighur women in China's western province of Xinjiang said they were released by proving their "adaptability to Chinese society" by drinking alcohol and eating pork.

Radio Free Asia revealed in November that Chinese men often sleep in the same beds as the Uighur women, whose husbands are detained in prison camps, during week-long monitoring sessions.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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