Mesut Ozil said he was left disappointed by his club Arsenal distancing themselves from his comments over the persecution of Uighur Muslims in China.
Ozil has criticised Arsenal’s response to his comments about the Uighur genocide and has called on the club to say ‘Muslim Lives Matter’ as well as ‘Black Lives Matter’.
“I have given a lot to Arsenal, on and off the pitch, so the reaction was disappointing. They said they don’t get involved in politics but this isn’t politics and they have got involved in other issues,” Arsenal midfielder Ozil said.
“Every human is equal,” Ozil told The Athletic. “It doesn’t matter what religion or colour you are – Muslim, Christian, Jew, black, white or anything else. We are all the same.”
“What I said was not against Chinese people, it was against whoever is doing this to the Uighur Muslims and other people who are not helping them, such as other Muslim countries.”
“In America, we saw George Floyd killed and the world spoke up to say Black Lives Matter, and that is correct. We are all equal and it’s a good thing that people fight against injustice. There are a lot of black players and fans of Arsenal and it’s fantastic the club is backing them,” he added.
Ozil said: “But I wish people would have done the same for the Muslims because Arsenal have many Muslim players and fans as well, and it is important for the world to say that Muslim Lives Matter.”
Ozil’s comments on Uighur Muslims and Arsenal’s response
Ozil spoke out on Instagram against China’s treatment of the Uighur population in Xinjiang last year.
The player said: “East Turkistan: the bleeding wound of the Ummah, resisting against the persecutors trying to separate them from their religion. They burn their Qurans. 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?”
In response, Arsenal released a statement on Chinese social media platform Weibo, which reads: “Regarding the comments made by Mesut Ozil on social media, Arsenal must make a clear statement. The content published is Ozil’s personal opinion. As a football club, Arsenal has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics.”