Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has criticised the London club’s response to his comments about the persecution of Uyghur Muslims and has called on the Gunners to say “Muslim Lives Matter.”
In an interview with The Athletic, Ozil said Arsenal were happy to get involved in political matters by supporting the Black Lives Matters movement.
He said: “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.”
Ozil also wants Arsenal to show support for “Muslim Lives Matter” as well as “Black Lives Matter.”
He said: “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.
“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.”
In December 2019, Ozil spoke out strongly against China’s treatment of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang, where over a million people have reportedly been held in detention camps over recent years.
Ozil’s Instagram message read: “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?”
But Arsenal moved to distance themselves from his comments and sought to limit any damage to their business in China, a move Ozil today told The Athletic he was not happy with.
A statement released by the club at the time on Chinese social media site Weibo said: “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.”