Ursula Gauthier of French news magazine L’Obs is effectively facing expulsion from China after publishing a post-Paris attacks article criticizing China’s policies against Uighurs, a primarily Muslim minority, in the Xinjiang region. Gauthier would be the first journalist kicked out of the country since Al Jazeera’s Melissa Chan in 2012.
In the article, published Nov. 18, Gauthier suggested Chinese authorities are manipulating its citizens’ emotional connection to Paris and the victims of November’s attacks to fuel anti-Uighur sentiments.
Although an attack killing 50 Chinese miners was allegedly carried out by members of the minority group two months ago, Gauthier said they were not associated with radicalism, but localized rage and repression.
“If China expresses its solidarity with countries threatened by the Islamic state,” she wrote in the article, translated by Google, “it calls back the support of the international community in its own conflict with its most restless minority: the Uighurs of Xinjiang.”
In response to Gauthier’s criticism, the Chinese foreign ministry said Saturday the journalist failed to make a “serious apology” and the country “will never support the freedom to champion terrorism.”
“I said I never supported terrorism,” Gauthier told the BBC, reporting she had received several calls from the government demanding an apology. “How do you want me to apologize for something I have not written? I am convinced they are very clearly trying to intimidate foreign press in China because they don’t want anyone to say things which are different from the official version of the question.”