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Amid the furore over France's stance on Islam, World Cup-winning French footballer Antoine Griezmann on Thursday, December 10, announced the termination of his sponsorship contract with the Chinese tech giant, Huawei, over the reports that the brand was associated in the surveillance of Uighur Muslims.
The 29-year-old footballer's announcement came after several media reports emerged stating that Huawei tested facial recognition software that was intended to help China conduct the surveillance on the community.
"Following strong suspicions that the Huawei company has contributed to the development of a 'Uighur alert' thanks to facial recognition software, I am announcing the immediate termination of my partnership with the company," Griezmann said in an Instagram post.
"I take this opportunity to invite Huawei to not just deny these accusations," he said, "but to take concrete actions as quickly as possible to condemn this mass repression, and to use its influence to contribute to the respect of human and women's rights in society."
Griezmann had been endorsing the brand since 2017 and has featured prominently in advertising campaigns in France.
Reacting to the incident, Huawei said that it was disappointed to learn about the athlete's decision, however, the company's representatives would speak to him and address the concern.
"Huawei is obviously saddened by the decision of Mr Griezmann to end his relationship with the company," a company spokesperson told the BBC adding, "We would like to extend an invitation to speak to him personally, to explain the work that is currently being done at the highest level, inside the company, to address the issues of human rights, equality, and discrimination at all levels, and to reassure him, and all our customers and partners, that Huawei takes these concerns very seriously."
US-based surveillance research firm IPVM had reported that Huawei had been involved in testing facial recognition software in China that the authorities could use to detect Uighurs.
Several reports, in the past, have highlighted that the Chinese government has been involved in brutal practices aimed at ethnic cleansing of Uighur Muslims, a Turkish speaking Muslim group. The government had been accused by the human rights group of allegedly detaining them in detention camps in Xinjiang province.
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