Following suit of German football star Mesut Ozil, New Zealand Muslim superstar Sonny Bill Williams has tweeted his support of the Uyghur Muslim minority in China, NZ Herald reported.
“It’s a sad time when we choose economic benefits over humanity #Uyghurs,” Williams wrote, accompanied by an image illustrating oppression against the group.
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) December 22, 2019
The message echoed an earlier one issued by Arsenal playmaker Ozil who stated that more countries should speak out against China’s reported actions of detaining Uighur people in “re-education camps”.
Earlier this month, Ozil posted on social media: “East Turkestan, the bleeding wound of the Ummah, resisting against the persecutors trying to separate them from their religion. They burn their Qurans.
Ozil has suffered a huge backlash since his post, and the Premier League and Arsenal have been accused of distancing themselves from the former German international.
It remains to be seen if there is a backlash from China against the 34-year-old Kiwi, who hasn’t previously voiced his opinion on such a sensitive international topic.
The tweet has been supported by many on social media, with some maintain that this would put Williams into “China’s blacklist.”
Welcome to China’s blacklist, you’ve made it! Congrats, it is a sign of success ?
— woppa ??? (@Woppa1Woppa) December 23, 2019
Thank you sonny ? …. every athlete and every person should act to stop China’s crimes against Muslims….
— Ania El Afandi آنيا (@Ania27El) December 23, 2019
May Allah give us all the ability to stand up for justice.
— IlmFeed (@IlmFeed) December 22, 2019
— Groovy Boo ?????? (@GroovyHKLover) December 23, 2019
Thank you for your bravery to voice your support for #Uyghurs. You’re representing how the bright side of humanity should be & stand up to #terrorism in China. China will soon have the Winter Olympics in 2022 & let’s boycott such event.#China_is_terrorist #BoycottBeijing2022 pic.twitter.com/QdC0bU7LNx
— Bruce Wayne ????? (@BruceWayne852) December 23, 2019
Decades of Persecution
Many refer to China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region — home to many ethnic minorities, including the Turkic Uyghur people — as East Turkestan.
China has faced growing international condemnation for setting up a vast network of camps in Xinjiang aimed at homogenizing the Uighur population to reflect China’s majority Han culture.
According to several reports by media and rights groups, more than one million Uyghurs and people of other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities have been rounded up in the camps in the tightly-controlled region.
In its 117-page report, “‘Eradicating Ideological Viruses’: China’s Campaign of Repression Against Xinjiang’s Muslims,” Human Rights Watch presented new evidence of the Chinese government’s mass arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment, and the increasingly pervasive controls on daily life.
After initially denying the camps existed, China describes them as vocational schools aimed at dampening the allure of Islamist extremism and violence.