Miami Mayor Francis Suarez appeared to be thrown off by a question from a radio interviewer about human rights violations in China. When asked if his 2024 presidential campaign would acknowledge these violations, Suarez responded “What’s a Uyghur?”

Uyghurs are a Muslim minority group that mainly resides in the western province of Xinjiang. Though it has been denied by Beijing officials, the region is known for detaining Uyghurs in re-education camps where they are subject to starvation, torture and rape.

These abuses have gotten a lot of media attention over the years, and have resulted in sanctions against China from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and European Union.

Specifically, tensions between China and the U.S. have grown over China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other issues such as trade policy. The Miami mayor’s lack of knowledge about this global issue was startling to listeners, who were quick to attack him on social media.

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Following the interview, Suarez explained himself on Twitter.

“Of course, I am well aware of the suffering of the Uyghurs in China. They are being enslaved because of their faith. China has a deplorable record on human rights and all people of faith suffer there.”

He claimed that he did not recognize the interviewer’s pronunciation of the word ‘Uyghur,’ thus he did not understand the question.

Suarez announced his bid for the 2024 presidential election earlier this month, making him the only Hispanic candidate in the race. Questions have since been raised about his loyalty to the GOP base, as he did not vote for party leader Donald Trump in 2016 or 2020.

The Republican presidential field is getting increasingly crowded. Along with Suarez, Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) are running and are currently the two leading candidates, with Trump pulling significantly ahead. Other bids have come from former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former ambassador Nikki Haley.

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