'He has a right to express his opinion': Arsene Wenger backs Mesut Ozil but says comments about Uighur Muslims are not Arsenal's
The German playmaker, who is Muslim, came under fire from the Chinese government owing to a statement he released on Instagram in which he criticized Chinese authorities for the alleged mistreatment and persecution of Turkic-speaking Uighur Muslims in the country, and also criticized fellow Muslims for failing to speak up on the matter.Also on rt.com Chinese TV pulls Arsenal game from air after Mesut Ozil statement about Uighur Muslims
China's foreign ministry dismissed Ozil's sentiment, claiming that he had been tricked by 'fake news,' while in their own statement Arsenal maintained that they remain apolitical on issues such as this - a sentiment echoed by former boss Arsene Wenger.
"What he says is about himself and not Arsenal," Wenger said.
"Mesut Ozil has freedom of speech like everyone else and he uses his notoriety to express his opinions, which are not necessarily shared by everybody.
"What's important is that Ozil has an individual responsibility. He doesn't have to carry the word of Arsenal Football Club. When you make a comment about your individual opinion you accept the consequences of it."
"East Turkistan, the bleeding wound of the Ummah, resisting against the persecutors trying to separate them from their religion," Ozil wrote in his Instagram post, via translation.
"They burn their Qurans. They shut down their mosques. They ban their schools. They kill their holy men. The men are forced into camps and their families are forced to live with Chinese men. The women are forced to marry Chinese men.
"But Muslims are silent. They won’t make a noise. They have abandoned them. Don’t they know that giving consent for persecution is persecution itself?"Also on rt.com 'Career criminal' jailed for 10 years for attempting to rob Arsenal stars Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac
Ozil's initial statement was centered around a population of around 1 million, most of whom are Uighur Muslims, many of whom are feared to have been interned without trial in labor camps in China - who claim that these people are being held at 'vocational training centres' aimed at rehabilitating religious extremists.
Wengers comments come from his new position as FIFA's chief of global football development where he is attending the Club World Cup in Qatar.