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27 Jun, 2023 21:33

US presidential candidate asks what ‘Uighur’ is

A question about China’s ethnic minority group has stumped Francis Suarez
US presidential candidate asks what ‘Uighur’ is

Francis Suarez, the former mayor of Miami, Florida who is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, had an embarrassing moment during Tuesday’s interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, when he was asked whether his campaign will talk about the Uighurs.

“The what?” Suarez responded. “What’s an Uighur?”

Hewitt quickly changed the subject, but told Suarez “you’ve got to get smart on that.”

The matter came up again a few minutes later, at the end of the interview, when Suarez noted that Hewitt had “given him homework” and promised to look into “what a, what was it, what did you call it, a Weeble?”

“The Uighurs. You really need to know about the Uighurs, Mayor. You’ve got to talk about it every day, okay?” replied Hewitt.

The Turkic ethnic group lives in China’s westernmost Xinjiang province. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has claimed “crimes against humanity” were taking place in the province, while some US officials went so far as to accuse China of “genocide.” Many of the claims about the mistreatment of Uighurs lead back to an activist named Adrian Zenz.

China has denounced the UN report as “disinformation and lies.” Beijing has repeatedly rejected allegations that the Uighurs were being mistreated, saying that the “concentration camps” alleged by Zenz are vocational centers designed to combat radicalization and extremism. 

The former mayor’s Uighur gaffe has already earned him comparisons with Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party presidential nominee in 2016, who famously wondered “What is Aleppo?” when asked about an alleged humanitarian crisis in that Syrian city. 

Suarez, 45, was elected mayor of Miami twice, following in the footsteps of his Cuban-born father Xavier. He stepped down earlier this month and filed paperwork to run for the GOP presidential nomination. Former president Donald Trump, another Florida resident, has a convincing lead in the polls at the moment.