Egyptian police detains scores of Chinese Uighurs in wide sweep

Egyptian police detained several Chinese Uighurs students in Egypt as they headed to Alexandria on their way out of the country. (AP)
Updated 06 July 2017
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Egyptian police detains scores of Chinese Uighurs in wide sweep

BEIJING: Chinese students from the Uighur ethnic minority have been detained in Egypt in a broad police sweep that has shaken the country’s sizeable Uighur student and expatriate community, activists said Thursday.
Egyptian police have detained scores of Uighur students, including 20 from Cairo’s Al-Azhar University who were stopped in the city of Alexandria on their way out of the country late Wednesday and told they would be deported to China, said Abduweli Ayup, a Uighur activist in Turkey.
Ayup said he had heard directly from some of the detainees and their relatives.
The detentions come amid reports that authorities in the Uighur homeland of Xinjiang in western China are seeking the immediate return of Uighurs studying abroad. Authorities in Xinjiang have significantly tightened security measures in the past year, as well as controls on religious expression, in what officials characterize as an “unyielding” campaign against Islamic extremism brewing in the region.
Overseas Uighurs and human rights groups say the measures have turned Xinjiang into a police state with widespread arbitrary detentions and invasive surveillance.
The detentions in Egypt, a popular destination for religious study among China’s Muslims, were seen by activists as a possible sign that China’s security crackdown in Xinjiang is extending its reach overseas.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman appeared to acknowledge on Thursday that Chinese citizens had been detained in Egypt, saying at a regular briefing that consular officials would visit them. He gave no further details.
Another activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said overseas groups had managed to move 60 Uighur students out of Egypt to safety in Turkey this week but 20 were held while trying to fly to Dubai.
Unverified videos shared on social media purportedly showed more than 70 Uighurs sitting on a floor in a government building and others being driven in a truck in handcuffs.
Abdullah, an Asian student of Islam at Al-Azhar university, said Uighurs were being detained in the Hay El-Sabia area of Cairo’s Nasr City district. He gave only his first name for fear of reprisals.


Turkey blocks NBA games featuring Erdogan-critic player

Updated 2 min 59 sec ago
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Turkey blocks NBA games featuring Erdogan-critic player

  • Turkey’s broadcasters have ignored Kanter’s games since he was indicted last year by a Turkish court
  • Kanter, a member of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen’s movement, is a vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

DUBAI: Turkish sports broadcaster, S Sport, has blocked the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) western conference finals between Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors from being screened due to the former’s center Enes Kanter.

“I can say clearly that we will not be broadcasting the Warriors-Blazers series,” S Sport commentator Omer Sarac told Reuters. “Furthermore, if Portland makes it to the finals, [that] will not be broadcast either… this situation is not about us, but it is what it is.”

Kanter, a member of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen’s movement, is a vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A warrant for his arrest has been issued by the Turkish government for alleged terrorism charges, and his passport was canceled in 2017.

“All these NBA fans, they want to watch the Western Conference finals, but they can’t all because of me. It’s funny and crazy. [The Turkish government] is afraid of an NBA player,” Kanter said in a phone interview with the Washington Post on Tuesday.

“I’m not a politician. It’s not my job, but everyone is so scared of Erdogan that I have to step up and speak out for freedom and human rights. It shows it’s a dictatorship in Turkey.”

Although Kanter is Turkey’s most successful basketball player ever, he is considered to be an “enemy of the country,” and Turkey’s broadcasters have ignored Kanter’s games since he was indicted last year by a Turkish court. 

In response, the NBA scrapped its contract with the local vendor running the Turkish Twitter account.

Basketball’s popularity is second only to soccer among Turkey’s 82 million people.

“It is mind-blowing that a conference final will not be broadcast in Turkey,” said Mete Aktas, a well-known Turkish NBA commentator and former chief editor of NBA Turkey magazine.

(With Reuters)