Erdogan says reported Uighurs mistreatment in China ‘exploited’

China’s suppressing Uighurs from practicing their religious rituals has angered many Turks

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday that the reported mistreatment of a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority in China has been “exploited” ahead of his upcoming trip to the giant East Asian country.

“We have kin in every corner in the world, from the Balkans to Central Asia, from Crimea to North Africa. All incidents, which take place in every single region, directly concern us. So claims about China’s pressure on our siblings in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region lead to sensitivity in our public,” he said during a fast-breaking dinner where he hosted ambassadors in the Turkish capital Ankara.

He added: “However, to a great extent the images and reports circulating in the media have made this sensibility prone to exploitation, deliberately or not.”

Uighurs people are Turkic Muslims who make up the majority in the autonomous region of Xinjiang, in northwest China. Chinese authorities have imposed measures to restrict their religious practices including fasting the month of Ramadan.

China’s suppressing Uighurs from practicing their religious rituals has angered many Turks. Erdogan’s statement also comes amid a spike in attacks against East Asian tourists in Turkey mistaken for being Chinese.

Erdogan said anti-Chinese attacks were “small” in Istanbul, but “we never want to see and of which we never approve took place.”

“First of all, I want to point out that Turkey stands with the Uighur Turks in China as it stands with all of its siblings and kin,” he emphasized.

“We voice distress about our siblings living in the Uighur Autonomous Region at the highest-level, and we will continue to do so. But the provocative incidents in Istanbul neither suit our hospitality nor are they a remedy for the troubles of our Uighur siblings,” he added.

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