The footballer wrote "East Turkistan: bleeding wound of Islamic Ummah”, calling Uighurs “warriors who resist persecution ... glorious believers who put up a fight alone against these who forcefully move people away from Islam”.
Football star Mesut Ozil on Friday accused Muslims of staying silent over what he called China’s persecution of Uighurs in Xinjiang.
On his Instagram account, the Turkish international star wrote under the headline, “East Turkistan: bleeding wound of Islamic Ummah”, calling Uighurs “warriors who resist persecution... Glorious believers who put up a fight alone against these who forcefully move people away from Islam”.
He added: “Qurans are burned ... Mosques were closed down... Islamic theological schools, madrasahs, were banned ... religious scholars were killed one by one ... despite all this, Muslims stay quiet.”
"Don't they know that giving consent for persecution is persecution itself? The honourable Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, says 'if you cannot prevent persecution, expose it'," he added.
English football club Arsenal tried on Saturday to distance itself from Ozil's comments.
“The content he expressed is entirely Ozil’s personal opinion,” the official account of Arsenal Football Club said in a post on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform. “As a football club, Arsenal always adheres to the principle of not being involved in politics.”
The club’s Twitter account did not have a post addressing Ozil’s comments as of Saturday afternoon.
The UN and human rights groups estimate that between 1 million and 2 million people, mostly ethnic Uighur Muslims, have been detained in harsh conditions in Xinjiang as part of what Beijing calls an anti-terrorism campaign.
China has repeatedly denied any mistreatment of Uighurs.