Özil posted to his millions of followers on social media on Friday about the persecution of Uighurs, condemning silence from Muslims on the issue. Özil is a Muslim who won the World Cup with the German national team before quitting international football amid claims of “racism and disrespect” over his Turkish heritage.
He is right to speak out. The Chinese government is committing ethnic cleansing in Xinjiang and the world should not stay silent. United Nations experts have described the region as a “no-rights zone” where Uighurs are “treated as enemies of the state based on nothing more than their ethno-religious identity”. Recently, leaked government documents added to the body of evidence about the vast system of internment camps, which are holding more than a million Uighurs and Turkic Muslims. It is the largest detention of an ethno-religious minority since the second world war.