By Isabel van Brugen
The Global Imams Council (GIC) of Muslim faith leaders on Dec. 30 banned followers of Islam from participating in and attending the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing the oppression of Uyghurs in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region.
The GIC is the world’s first and largest transnational non-governmental body of Muslim religious leaders from all Islamic denominations and schools of thought, with over 1,300 members worldwide, according to its website.
In a statement on Thursday titled “GIC statement on the 2022 Winter Olympics,” GIC President Imam Mohammad Baqir al-Budairi said that the Beijing Games “directly serves the interests of a tyrannical and oppressive regime that’s responsible for the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Uyghurs.”
“The Global Imams Council rules that participation and attendance in Beijing 2022 are prohibited,” he wrote.
“We stand in support of, and united with, the oppressed Uyghur Muslims. The Chinese Government continues to violate Chinese Muslims’ basic human and fundamental rights through oppression, torture, and dictatorship,” the GIC president added in his letter.
The move comes after the Biden administration last month announced a U.S. diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, citing the Chinese regime’s ongoing human rights crisis in Xinjiang. The United States will not send an official delegation to the event, although U.S. athletes will still be allowed to compete.
The Chinese regime has been accused of committing genocide and human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. It has denied such accusations, including allegations of forced labor in the region.
Former Uyghur detainees previously told The Epoch Times they were subject to torture, forced to denounce their faith, and forced to pledge loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) while being held for unknown reasons in often overcrowded facilities.
Uyghurs—the majority of whom are Sunni Muslim—alongside other ethnic minorities such as Tibetans—the majority of whom are Buddhist—as well as believers of other faiths, such as house Christians and Falun Gong adherents, have long been targeted by the CCP and its atheistic social policies for transformation through “thought reeducation,” also known as brainwashing.
“We applaud the growing number of organizations boycotting the Beijing 2022 Olympics and reaffirm our solidarity with the World Uyghur Congress. Additionally, we extend our gratitude to the many faith leaders and religious organizations that have expressed their support to Muslims during their calamities,” GIC’s statement concluded.