Mesut Ozil, a German footballer playing for the Arsenal football club, is not having a good time on the field. And off it, he appears to have developed a penchant for controversies. On Thursday, he issued a statement on social media denouncing the Muslim world for remaining silent on the persecution of Uyghur Muslims in China.
Ozil wrote in Turkish, “East Turkestan, the bleeding wound of the Ummah [community], resisting the persecutors trying to separate them from their religion… They burn their Korans. 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 message was written in a background of blue with a white crescent moon, the colours of Uyghur Separatists who call the region ‘East Turkestan’. Interestingly, Ozil calls Xinjiang the same in his statement.
Here’s the translation: pic.twitter.com/MkyMwz4J8F
— IlmFeed (@IlmFeed) December 13, 2019
Following his statement, Ozil has faced massive backlash in China. Arsenal Football Club was forced to issue a statement disassociating themselves from the statement. “Regarding the comments made by Mesut Özil on social media, Arsenal must make a clear statement,” its statement on Weibo, the most popular social media website in China, said. “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.”
Ozil, who is going through a torrid time at Arsenal as is his club, has always been vocal about his political inclinations. He had caused outrage after posing for a photograph with Turkish Dictator Erdogan ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup at a time when tensions were prevalent between the two countries. Ozil, himself, is of Turkish origin. Erdogan was the best man at his wedding.
Ozil’s dalliance with Erdogan had reignited the debate regarding dual citizenship and dual loyalties. Following the incident, the German football associating issued a statement that made it clear that the gesture was not appreciated. Ozil, afterwards, quit the national team accusing the authorities of ‘racism’.