Makeup tutorials are some of the most watched videos on the Internet, and the emerging social media video app TikTok is gaining more users by the second. 17-year-old Afghan-American Muslim, Feroza Aziz, used both of these trends to make a statement in this clip, where her eyelash curling tutorial abruptly turns into a lesson on China’s infamous Muslim concentration camps.
While these so-called “re-education centers” – which are more accurately, detention camps, reminiscent of those of the holocaust – have received minimal media coverage since they began appearing around last year, what little reportage we have exposes racist, brutal attacks, including strict surveillance and torture, on the Muslim Uighur community in China, most of which occurs in these camps.
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Hi guys, I made a video about the situation in China with how the government is capturing the Uyghur Muslims and placing them into concentration camps. Once you enter these camps, you’re lucky if you get out. Innocent humans are being murdered, tortured, raped, receiving shock therapy, and so much more that I can’t even describe. They are holding a genocide against Muslims and they’re getting away with it. We need to spread awareness. I know it might sound useless, what can spreading awareness and talking about this even do? What are we supposed to do about it? We have our voices and technology to help us. Speak to those who can help! The UN failed to stop this genocide in the summer, we can’t let that happen again. We can’t be silent on another holocaust that is bound to happen. We can’t be another failed generation of “what could’ve, should’ve, would’ve”. We are strong people. We can do this. Only if we try #muslim #islam #tiktok #uyghurmuslims #china #freepalestine
Since Feroza’s videos went viral, her account on TikTok was suspended. However, the company claims that they’ve suspended her account because of a meme she made about Osama Bin Laden that “sexualises” him.
Since then, she has taken to other platforms to protest being censored after speaking up, starting a much-needed dialogue on how social media can and must be used as a tool of spreading knowledge and awareness – and how it is in turn used as a tool of censorship.
"There’s a trend on TikTok where you post like, ‘The type of boys or girls I liked when I was little,'" Aziz said. "Mine was like, ‘I liked a lot of white guys, but now I like brown people’ and at the end was [bin Laden] as a joke,” she explained to Buzzfeed.
She added, "It was a dark humor joke that he was at the end, because obviously no one in their right mind would think or say that."
The firm has since announced lifting the ban, claiming it was due to 17-year-old Feroza Aziz's prior conduct on the app - and unrelated to Chinese politics. They blamed it instead on a technical "human moderation error."