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Mesut Özil. Photo: Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

China’s state broadcaster CCTV, the primary distributor of English Premier League soccer in the country, pulled a match between Arsenal and Manchester City on Sunday after Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil criticized Beijing for its mass detention of Uighur Muslims, the Financial Times reports.

The backdrop: Özil, a Turkish-German soccer player, denounced China on Twitter and Instagram for persecuting Uighur minorities in Xinjiang province, while also calling out Muslim-majority countries for their silence.

What they're saying: "Korans are being burnt. Mosques are being shut down. Muslim schools are being banned. Religious scholars are being killed one by one,” Özil tweeted in Turkish. “Despite all this, Muslims stay quiet."

  • Arsenal distanced itself from Özil's comments on Saturday, saying in a statement on the Chinese app Weibo: “As a football club, Arsenal has always followed the principle of not interfering in politics,” according to FT.
  • The Chinese Football Association told local media: "What Ozil said has clearly hurt his Chinese fans and Chinese people in general. It is unacceptable.”

The big picture: This isn't the first time a Western sports team has come under fire for its response to China's human rights abuses. In October, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted an image expressing support for pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong, setting off a chain of events that included Morey apologizing and the Chinese government demanding the league take disciplinary action.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Drew Angerer, Pool/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 4: Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.

Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
9 hours ago - World

China's economy grows 6.5% in Q4 as country rebounds from coronavirus

A technician installs and checks service robots to be be used for food and medicine delivery in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China, on Sunday. Photo: Hu Xuejun/VCG via Getty Images

China's economy grew at a 6.5% pace in the final quarter of 2020, the national statistics bureau announced Monday local time, topping off a year in which it grew in three of four quarters and by 2.3% in total.

Why it matters: No other major economy managed positive growth in 2020. Although the COVID-19 pandemic was first detected in China, the country got the virus under control and became one of the main positive drivers of the global economy even as the rest of the world was largely under lockdown.