Mesut Ozil, a German footballer who plays for Premier League club Arsenal, has come under fire after he used the social media to speak against China's policies in Xinjiang and the silence of Muslim communities towards the injustice.
Ozil's posts on Instagram called Uighurs "warriors who resist persecution" and criticised both China and the silence of Muslims in response to the alleged crackdown.
"[In China] Qurans are burned, mosques were closed down, Islamic theological schools, madrasas were banned, religious scholars were killed one by one. Despite all this, Muslims stay quiet," the German midfielder, who is a Muslim, said in his posts.
"Don't they know that giving consent for persecution is persecution itself? The honourable Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, says, 'If you cannot prevent persecution, expose it'," he added.
Following his message, Arsenal has tried to distance itself from the comments of its midfielder, saying, "The content he expressed is entirely Ozil's personal opinion."
"As a football club, Arsenal always adheres to the principle of not being involved in politics," the official account of Arsenal Football Club said on Saturday in a post on China's Weibo platform.
Sina Weibo, launched in 2009, is a Chinese microblogging website. It is one of the biggest social media platforms in China, with over 445 million monthly active users as of Q3 2018.
Arsenal's Twitter account did not have a post addressing Ozil's comments as of Saturday afternoon.
But replies to the club's Weibo post were angry, with one showing a shredded Ozil football jersey kept next to a pair of scissors, demanding him to be expelled from the club, Al Jazeera reported.
A search on Weibo for the hashtag translatable as "Ozil issues inappropriate statement", had been one of the top trending topics on the platform on Saturday afternoon.
The United Nations and human rights groups estimate that over a million people, mostly ethnic Uighur Muslims, have been detained in harsh conditions in camps in Xinjiang as part of what Beijing calls an anti-terror campaign.
In a report, last September, the United States-based rights group Human Rights Watch accused the Chinese government of carrying out a "systematic campaign of human rights violations" against Uighurs in Xinjiang.
China has repeatedly denied any mistreatment of Uighurs. It describes the complexes in Xinjiang as "vocational training centres" that are helping stamp out "extremism" and give people new skills. (ANI)