Saudi newspaper prints full-page denial of China's Uighur persecution
A photo of the full-page column, which denied the existence of Uighur internment camps and called them anti-terrorist centres, circulated on Twitter angering rights activists.
The published column, entitled "Myths and Facts about Human Rights in Xinjiang", also dismissed reports of abuse against the mostly-Muslim persecuted ethnic minority as "Western propaganda".
The newspaper came under fire for "defending China's horrific treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang", while many slammed Okaz for helping "spread propaganda" by the Chinese state.
"It's bizarrely symbolic to allow a Chinese diplomat dispel 'propaganda' [about] persecuting Muslims in a newspaper in Saudi, of all Islamic countries," Annas Shaker, a Saudi researcher wrote.
Sultan Amer, an outspoken activist, said the outlet was actively justifying rights abuses by voicing a diplomat's opinion without challenging it.
"We are waiting for Okaz - since it is a platform to justify massacres and major crimes - to publish another article by the Syrian Foreign Minister that reveals to us the facts and fallacies about human rights in Syria," Sultan Amer, an outspoken activist said.
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Last year, the kingdom which lauds itself as the protector of Islam came under fire after Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman defended China's unprecedented crackdown on up to two million Muslims.
Meanwhile, the US has imposed sanctions on several officials from China's ruling Communist Party, accusing them of serious human rights abuses against Uighurs.
Witnesses and human rights groups say that China has rounded up more than one million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang in re-education camps.
Beijing describes the facilities as job training centres aimed at steering people away from terrorism following a spate of violence blamed on separatists.
Uighur activists say China is using the internment camps to conduct a massive brainwashing campaign aimed at eradicating their distinct culture and Islamic identity.