The wait is finally over as we begin the unveiling of our top 5 Global Muslim Personalities of the Year 2019. In 5th position is former Germany national team player and Arsenal midfielder, Mesut Ozil. He is arguably one of the few Muslim footballers who is giving the English Premiership a new identity and projecting Islam rightly, which evidently has a great influence on his team and numerous fans across the world.
Yes, the 31-year-old Muslim celebrity is always seen on several occasions on the pitch spreading his hands out in dua (supplication) to Allah before every game but what exactly has he done to have earned him this golden mention as one of the 2019 Global Muslim Personalities, an award proudly powered by Rawshield PR Media, a Lagos, Nigeria-based media outfit, to celebrate Muslim achievers in all endeavours?
5. MESUT OZIL
Uyghur Muslims in China’s far-western Xinjiang region have for a very long time been subjected to series of victimisation, oppression and molestation which have failed to get a single mention by and among the so-called “big bosses” in the Muslim world.
A huge number of them, many reports claimed as much as a million, have been held in internment camps where they’re being literally brainwashed and forced to denounce Islam, the religion they profess wholeheartedly.
Unfortunately, several major Muslim countries remained mute and unconcerned, failing to speak up while some openly justified and supported Beijing’s anti-human rights action against their brethren.
But one man did what many Muslim leaders, including fellow sportsmen and celebrities fail to do for reasons best known to them – be it economic, power or fame. The former German international and Arsenal FC of England star, broke the deafening silence pattern against the persecution of Uyghur Muslims by the Xi Jinping’s Communist party-led government.
Of course, it would take a man to summon such huge courage to stand against the action of the Chinese government and the possible adverse effect on his sterling football career which was recently on a downward slide under recently sacked Arsenal manager, Unai Emery. Yet, he defied all odds and spoke out in defence of the defenceless Uyghur Muslims.
Ozil, who now sees himself more as a Turkish citizen by virtue of his parental background, chose the most powerful media of communication in the 21st century, the social media, to criticise the seeming global Muslim community’s silence and condemn the Chinese government.
In December 2019, the Arsenal star who took to his Instagram page which has millions of followers, wrote under the headline, “East Turkistan: Bleeding Wound of Islamic Ummah,” calling Uyghurs “warriors who resist persecution… Glorious believers who put up a fight alone against those who forcefully move people away from Islam.”
“In China, copies of the Qur’an are burned… Mosques were closed down… Islamic theological schools, Madrasahs were banned … Religious scholars were killed one by one … Despite all this, Muslims stay quiet.”
“Don’t they know that giving consent for persecution is persecution itself? The honorable Ali, son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, says, ‘If you cannot prevent persecution, expose it,” he added.
His powerful remarks quickly jerked a numb world to life and sparked reactions from across the world. Almost immediately after the midfielder’s comment hit the social media, his club side, Arsenal FC, distanced itself from the footballer’s comment.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry didn’t only frown at Ozil’s post, it pulled out of televising the club’s English Premier League match against Manchester City from the airwaves. Some angry Chinese fans burnt their Arsenal jerseys, with many of them calling on the club to terminate his contract, among other reactions.
But the hit-maker hasn’t only earned for himself, respect from the oppressed Muslims across the world, we at Muslim News are really impressed by his bold move in standing up for a just cause. If the Chinese government used it’s media to paint him red, we strongly believe that we (as a Muslim medium) can do better.
Thus, it is our pleasure to announce him as the fifth placed person in the list of 2019 Global Muslim Personalities. We are equally happy that the 31-year-old footballer’s performance on the pitch has picked up, as he now enjoys regular and spectacular time on the pitch since the arrival of the new Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, effectively brushing aside the powerful backlash that followed his post.
Interestingly, Ozil is one of the few Muslim footballers who is giving the English club side, Arsenal in particular and the Premiership in general a new lease of life and evidently, he has great influence on the team and it’s numerous fans across the world. Before the commencement of every game, Ozil will supplicate to Allah, an act of worship, otherwise known as dua in arabic.
We will also acknowledge Ozil’s humanitarian services which has given renewed hopes to thousands of children to undergo life-changing surgical operations and provided 100,000 kids with food and shelter through his charity organisation, BigShoe Foundation.
Although, like every other human being, he is not perfect. He has his shortcomings, his statement on the issue was significant and brought the issue of the Uyghur Muslims to the front burner of global discourse. May Allah bless him with the strength and courage to do more for Islam and the oppressed Muslims. Ameen
– Rasheed Abubakar, publisher, Muslim News Nigeria