German-Turkish footballer Mesut Ozil has taken to twitter to spread awareness of the plight of India's Muslims who face persecution in the Hindu-majority country.
Yesterday, on one of the final ten days of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the former Real Madrid and Arsenal player called on the international community to "break the silence" on what is happening in India. He added that he is praying for the safety and well-being of the country's substantial Muslim minority.
Describing the "shameful situation", Ozil raised the issue of human rights in the "so-called largest democracy in the world". His tweet, which includes an image of Delhi's Mughal-era Jama Masjid at dusk when the faithful break their fast, has since garnered almost 80,000 likes.
Ozil's intervention comes amid the growing persecution of India's 200 million Muslims, which includes calls by influential extremists for genocidal violence as well as sexual violence against Muslim women and girls.
Last week, Hindus for Human Rights issued a statement signed by Hindu leaders from around the world expressing dismay over "anti-Muslim hate". The signatories criticised Hindutva, "A century-old political ideology [of the ruling party] that sees citizens of other faiths as inherently foreign and not qualified to enjoy the full benefits of Indian citizenship."
This is not the first time that Ozil has been vocal about human rights issues affecting Muslim minorities. In 2019, the 33-year-old criticised China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims which caused a backlash against him. His club at the time, Arsenal, distanced itself from his comments, stating that it "does not [get involved] in politics".
Arsenal when it didn't stand with Ozil on the Uighurs in 2019: "As a football club, Arsenal has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics." https://t.co/3uuLPCajtT
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) March 6, 2022
Such a position, however, has not stopped Arsenal from joining other clubs, organisations and brands in voicing support for Ukraine following Russia's invasion. The North London club has been accused of hypocrisy given its previous "no involvement in politics" claim and lack of backing for its former player.
"Let's keep praying for peace in the world, not just in Ukraine, but also in Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and all other places in the world where people are suffering from war," tweeted Ozil earlier this month.