Ozil removed from PES 2020 in China

Mesut Ozil of Arsenal looks on during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has been removed from China's version of the Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 video game following his criticism of China's treatment of Uighur Muslims.

Ozil, who is a Muslim, called Uighurs "warriors who resist persecution".

He also criticised both China and the silence of Muslims in response.

NetEase, which publishes the PES franchise in China, said the former Germany player had been removed from three existing titles in the country.

"The German player Ozil posted an extreme statement about China on social media," it said in a statement.

"The speech hurt the feelings of Chinese fans and violated the sports spirit of love and peace. We do not understand, accept or forgive this."

Arsenal said the club is "apolitical" and China's foreign ministry claimed 31-year-old Ozil - who is of Turkish origin - was "deceived by fake news".

Rights groups say about a million people - mostly from the Muslim Uighur community - are thought to have been detained without trial in high-security prison camps.

China has consistently denied mistreating Uighur Muslims in the country and says they are being educated in "vocational training centres" to combat violent religious extremism.

Harun Khan, the Secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said Ozil's actions were "hugely commendable" and described Arsenal's decision to distance themselves from Ozil's views as "regrettable".

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