Arsenal distances itself from Özil's remarks on China's Xinjiang

Arsenal Release Statement After Mesut Ozil Speaks Out Over Persecution of China's Uighur Population

Demba Ba criticizes Arsenal’s action over Mesut Ozil’s remark on Uighur Muslims’ plight in China

China has faced growing worldwide condemnation for setting up a vast network of camps in Xinjiang, which critics say are aimed at homogenising the Uighur population to reflect China's majority Han culture.

China's Foreign Ministry says Arsenal's Mesut Ozil was "completely deceived by fake news and false statements" when the midfielder criticised the country's policy toward its Muslim Uighur minority.

Earlier, a Global Times editorial slammed what it called a "clownish performance" from Ozil, 31, describing him as "confused" and "reckless" and saying he had abused his position as a public figure.

Beijing denies any mistreatment of Uighurs.

The country is the Premier League's most lucrative overseas broadcast market.

China's state-run CCTV will no longer show a live broadcast of the match against Manchester City this weekend, despite Arsenal's attempt to disassociate themselves from the remarks.

Chinese video streaming website PPTV - a popular online platform - has also pulled the game from its schedule.

The 34-year-old player tweeted: "Not surprised".

"Do you know how Arsenal fans in China have spent the last two days?" one Instagram user posted on his profile.

"Hua called Pompeo's statement "utterly defamatory and groundless", adding that Beijing urged relevant U.S. officials to face the facts, be objective and fair, and not adopt double standards on counter-terrorism, let alone to use this as an excuse to launch unwarranted attacks against China", referring to Beijing's claims that activities in Xinjiang are about stemming a terrorist threat in the region.

The United Nations and human rights groups estimate that between 1 million and 2 million people, mostly ethnic Uighur Muslims, have been detained in harsh conditions in Xinjiang as part of what Beijing calls an anti-terrorism campaign.

"Korans are being burnt". Muslim schools are being banned...

He also accused China of burning Qurans, closing mosques and the killings of religious scholars. "Brothers are forcefully being sent to camps", Ozil wrote in Turkish on his Twitter account on Friday.

"But Muslims are silent. Despite all this, Muslims stay quiet".

The Arsenal Football Club issued a statement on social media that says the content expressed by Ozil is entirely his personal opinion, and that the club "always adheres to the principle of not being involved in politics".

However, one Premier League club executive with experience of handling China believes the club will need to swallow its pride to stop the diplomatic spat from escalating.

Ozil played only an hour of the City defeat before being substituted.

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