Teen’s TikTok ‘makeup tutorial’ condemning China goes viral

Feroza Aziz says the China-owned app has blocked her following the videos condemning the treatment of Chinese Muslims.

A post by a US teenager pretending to give an eyelash curling tutorial while actually condemning China‘s crackdown on Muslims in Xinjiang has gone viral.

The video by Feroza Aziz, 17, had millions of views across several social media platforms by Wednesday. 

Aziz, who describes herself on Twitter as “Just a Muslim trying to spread awareness”, said she has been blocked from the popular China-owned video platform TikTok for a month after posting Sunday’s clip, a claim disputed by the app. 

The now-viral video begins with Aziz telling viewers “the first thing you need to do is grab your eyelash curler,” before urging those watching to “use your phone that you’re using right now to search up what’s happening in China”.

She goes on to accuse China of “throwing innocent Muslims” into “concentration camps”, saying Muslims are being separated from their families, kidnapped, raped, murdered and forced to consume pork and alcohol, and convert to other religions.

China’s Uighurs: State defends internment camps

“This is another Holocaust, yet no one is talking about it,” she said.

Human rights groups and outside experts say more than one million Uighurs and other mostly-Muslim minorities have been rounded up in a network of detention camps across the northeastern Xinjiang region. 

China, after initially denying the camps existed, now describes them as vocational training centres aimed at deterring attacks associated with Uighur separatism through language and cultural education and job training. 

Each video is described as a tutorial for “getting longer lashes” and begins with beauty advice. Aziz said she had adopted this ruse to prevent her content being taken down by TikTok. 

A previous account owned by Aziz, reportedly from New Jersey, was blocked by TikTok over another alleged violation, but the app denied the current profile had been frozen.

“TikTok does not moderate content due to political sensitivities,” a spokesperson told AFP news agency.

“In this case, the user’s previous account and associated device were banned after she posted a video of Osama bin Laden, which is a violation of TikTok’s ban on content that includes imagery related to terrorist organizations. Her new account and its videos, including the video in question, were not affected.”

In a second video, Aziz explained what people can do to help Uighurs, apparently in response to demand from viewers.

She encouraged people to use their voices to spread awareness, pointing to Sudan as an example where social media pressure prompted real-world results during the violent aftermath of the toppling of former leader Omar al-Bashir

“Our voices can do so much. It doesn’t matter if we’re not 18 or of age to vote, we have our voices, we can use that,” Aziz said, before urging those who can vote in the upcoming US election to ask questions at rallies and choose a candidate that they believe will help.

In her third and final video, Aziz addressed criticism that, in highlighting the plight of Chinese Muslims, she was ignoring others in need. 

“[When] you are commenting “how come you’re talking about this and not this?” You are putting a value on people’s lives. you are making it seem like some peoples lives matter more than others, which it doesn’t,” she said.

“Talk about China, talk about Colombia, talk about America, but remember, spread awareness, don’t take it away”.

As of Wednesday morning, the first post had more than 1.5 million views and 501,900 likes, and 600,000 comments.

Two follow-up videos had both received more than 7,000 views.

The eyelash curling clip had reached far more people on Twitter, with versions of the same video receiving more than 6.5 million views.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies