China insists that a star Premier League player who criticised China's crackdown on Muslims was 'blinded by fake news' and invites him to Xinjiang to see the detention centers for himself
- China on Monday responded to Premier League superstar Mesut Ozil's criticisms of China and its treatment of its ethnic Muslim population, saying that the Arsenal forward was "blinded by fake news."
- Ozil sparked fury in China after posting on both his Instagram and Twitter pages last week slamming China for its detention and surveillance of millions of Uighurs in the autonomous western Xinjiang region.
- On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang responded to the controversy, urging Ozil to "come to see Xinjiang for himself."
- China has been accused of running brutal detention centers in Xinjiang. China has acknowledged the existence of some "reeducation camps" but repeatedly denied any reports of abuse at its facilities.
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China on Monday responded to Premier League superstar Mesut Ozil's criticisms of the country and its treatment of its ethnic Uighur population, saying that the Arsenal forward was "blinded by fake news."
Ozil sparked fury in China after posting on both his Instagram and Twitter pages last week slamming China for its detention and surveillance of millions of Muslims in the autonomous western Xinjiang region.
According to a translation published by CNN, Ozil's Turkish post reads: "Qurans are burned, mosques were closed down, Islamic theological schools, madrasas were banned, religious scholars were killed one by one. Despite all this, Muslims stay quiet."
China on Sunday pulled coverage of Arsenal's match against Manchester City in response to the criticism. According to Business Insider Singapore's Jessica Lin, Chinese fans on microblogging site Weibo lashed out at Ozil's posts, with one user saying that they contained "malicious disinformation to provide a cheap excuse for extremism."
Arsenal quickly distanced themselves from the 31-year-old German-Turkish player, saying that the club "has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics."
On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang responded to the controversy, urging Ozil to "come to see Xinjiang for himself."
"I don't know if Mr. Ozil has been to Xinjiang personally. But he seems to have been deceived by fake news, and his judgment has been influenced by untrue words," Geng said, according to state news agency Xinhua.
"We welcome Mr. Ozil to come to Xinjiang, and walk around to have a look," Geng added. "So long as he has a conscience, can tell right from wrong and maintain an objective and impartial attitude, he will see a 'different' Xinjiang."
Ozil is not the only sports figure to spark fury in China, the Premier League's most lucrative overseas broadcast market. In October, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted out an image that voiced support for protests in Hong Kong, which led to Chinese leagues, streaming services, sponsors, and partners, to cut ties with the Rockets and the NBA.
Satellite images reviewed by the Washington-based East Turkistan National Awakening Movement earlier this month identified at least 465 detention centers, labor camps, and suspected prisons in Xinjiang. Interviews with people who were held in the camps reveal allegations of beatings and food deprivation, as well as medical experimentation on prisoners.
China has acknowledged the existence of some "reeducation camps" but repeatedly denied any reports of abuse at its facilities.
A recent leak of classified Chinese government documents known as the "China Cables" laid out a manual for exactly how the detention centers were to operate, from preventing escape by double locking all the doors to using a "points system" based on behavior that is linked "directly to rewards, punishments, and family visits."
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