Sonny Bill Williams has tweeted his support of the minority Uighur ethnic group, mirroring the stance of football star Mesut Özil which drew an angry response from China.
In his tweet posted on Monday, Williams echoed the belief of Arsenal playmaker Özil, who is also a practising Muslim, that more countries should speak out against China’s reported actions of detaining Uighur people in “re-education camps”.
Williams, a Muslim convert is a New Zealand All Black star. He posted an image showing a hand-painted with the Chinese flag twisting an arm painted with the flag of East Turkestan – the term used by separatists to refer to Xinjiang.
The East Turkestan arm is dripping with blood.
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) December 22, 2019
His statement echoes comments made by Arsenal footballer Ozil who criticised both China – and Muslim people who stayed silent during the persecution of Uighurs.
“Korans are being burnt… Mosques are being shut down… Muslims schools are being banned… Brothers are forcefully being sent to camps,” the Muslim player tweeted in Turkish.
“The Muslims are silent. Their voice is not heard.”
China responded furiously, with state television pulling an Arsenal match from TV schedules. FIFA games have removed Ozil from the game.
Arsenal football club distanced themselves from the footballer, such is the power and dominance fo Chinese sponsorship and TV revenues from China.
The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said he was “deceived by fake news”, and invited him to visit the region to “have a look” for himself.
Yesterday, the Hong Kong protesters stood in solidarity with Uighurs and took the protest to the streets of HongKong wearing Uighur masks and holding signs supporting them
The Uighurs are ethnically Turkic Muslims who live in western China – predominantly in the autonomous region of Xinjiang. They make up under half of the region’s roughly 26 million people.
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