Rugby star latest Muslim athlete to condemn China’s treatment of Uyghurs

31st Jan 2020
Rugby star latest Muslim athlete to condemn China’s treatment of Uyghurs

Rugby superstar Sonny Bill Williams (Credit: WikiCommons)

Elham Asaad Buaras

New Zealand Rugby superstar Sonny Bill Williams has become the latest sports star to criticise China for its treatment of the Muslim Uyghur population.

In a Twitter post on December 23, Williams also slammed others for choosing ‘economic benefits over humanity.’ Arsenal footballer Mesut Özil recently spoke out on the issue.

China has been accused of a ‘mass internment’ of one million Muslims in the Xinjiang region.
Williams, a Muslim convert, 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.

Williams, who recently signed for rugby league side Toronto Wolfpack, has achieved huge success in both codes of the game – league and union.

His statement echoes comments made by Özil (who is of Turkish descent) who criticised both China – and the people who stayed silent. ‘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, to a background of the East Turkestan flag. ‘The Muslims are silent. Their voice is not heard.’

China responded furiously, with state television pulling an Arsenal match from TV schedules.
Özil was also removed from a Chinese version of the Pro Evolution Soccer video game. A foreign ministry spokesman said he was “deceived by fake news”, and invited him to visit the region to “have a look” for himself.

Two-time Combat Sambo World Champion and the reigning UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia also addressed the Instagram account included a post about the history of Uyghurs – but the post seems to have been taken down.

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