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Sonny Bill Williams Protests Oppression of Uyghur Muslims

Following suit of German football star Mesut Ozil, New Zealand Muslim superstar Sonny Bill Williams has tweeted his support of the Uyghur Muslim minority in China, NZ Herald reported.

“It’s a sad time when we choose economic benefits over humanity #Uyghurs,” Williams wrote, accompanied by an image illustrating oppression against the group.

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The message echoed an earlier one issued by Arsenal playmaker Ozil who stated that more countries should speak out against China’s reported actions of detaining Uighur people in “re-education camps”.

Earlier this month, Ozil posted on social media: “East Turkestan, the bleeding wound of the Ummah, resisting against the persecutors trying to separate them from their religion. They burn their Qurans.

Ozil has suffered a huge backlash since his post, and the Premier League and Arsenal have been accused of distancing themselves from the former German international.

It remains to be seen if there is a backlash from China against the 34-year-old Kiwi, who hasn’t previously voiced his opinion on such a sensitive international topic.

Reactions

The tweet has been supported by many on social media, with some maintain that this would put Williams into “China’s blacklist.”

Decades of Persecution

Many refer to China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region — home to many ethnic minorities, including the Turkic Uyghur people — as East Turkestan.

For years, Chinese authorities have been imposing restrictions on Uyghur Muslims in the north-western region of Xinjiang.

China has faced growing international condemnation for setting up a vast network of camps in Xinjiang aimed at homogenizing the Uighur population to reflect China’s majority Han culture.

According to several reports by media and rights groups, more than one million Uyghurs and people of other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities have been rounded up in the camps in the tightly-controlled region.

In its 117-page report, “‘Eradicating Ideological Viruses’: China’s Campaign of Repression Against Xinjiang’s Muslims,” Human Rights Watch presented new evidence of the Chinese government’s mass arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment, and the increasingly pervasive controls on daily life.

After initially denying the camps existed, China describes them as vocational schools aimed at dampening the allure of Islamist extremism and violence.