How Iran is staging anti-government protests in Qatar
The Iranian national team lost their opening match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup against England, with the final scoresheet being 2-6. However, the team has won hearts across the world by standing in solidarity with the human rights protest movement that has swept through their home country.
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As the players of “Team Melli” – the national team – lined up to take part in the centuries-old tradition of singing the national anthem at the Khalifa International Stadium, they stood side by side, arms slung across their shoulders. But rather than chanting, their mouths remained shut, in an apparent expression of support for the anti-government protests in their home country that have erupted since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
This is not the only way Iran has supported the protests that have been erupting in the country for more than two months.
Iran brings protests to Qatar
Iranian soccer fans, who had gathered at the Khalifa International Stadium, also expressed support for the protests. Chants of “Say his name, Mahsa Amini” echoed in and around the premises ahead of the game.
Men, women and children were also seen wearing T-shirts that read “Zan, Zindagi, Azadi” (women, life, freedom), a famous chant from protests in Iran.
“My people in Iran are under a lot of pressure and being killed by the regime, so we want to take this opportunity to make their voices heard,” said Mahmoud Izadi, one of the protesters in Qatar’s capital Doha. AlJazeera.
Some of the protesters also held up banners with Amini’s picture on them in the stadium. Izadi said the protesters want the world to pay attention to the situation in Iran and use the World Cup as a platform because their voices are being crushed in their home country.
Hasti, an Iranian-American in Qatar to watch Iran’s games, said while she didn’t think a sports tournament was the best place to register a protest, there weren’t too many options for his people. “We’re going to use whatever platform we can get to raise the issue and it may not directly help Iranians, but it will help show the world what’s going on there.”
While the players chose to remain silent during the national anthem, Iranians in the stands chose to boo and jeer, in protest against the autocratic rule.
Iranian fans could also be heard chanting ‘Ali Karimi’ in the first half in reference to the former footballer who is one of the Islamic Republic’s most vocal critics and one of the movement’s most popular faces of protest.
Fans could also be heard chanting “Be-Sharaf”, which means dishonorable in Persian. It is an adjective protesters have used against security forces in Iran.
That’s not all. Newsweekciting a video shared on Twitter by Iranian Internationalreported that residents of Shahran district in Tehran celebrated and chanted “Death to the dictator” after England scored their third goal against Iran in the match.
A video obtained by @IranIntl shows residents of Shahran district in Tehran celebrating and chanting ‘Death to the dictator’ after England scored their 3rd goal against Iran in the current match.
Team Melli was widely referred to as the “Team of the Islamic Republic” for not supporting the popular uprising. pic.twitter.com/bu0dm34Ipt
— Iran International English (@IranIntl_En) November 21, 2022
Ahead of the game, national team captain Ehsan Hajsafi also broke his silence on the ensuing protests and arrests in Iran, saying “conditions in our country are not good”.
In the pre-game press conference, the 32-year-old said the players were “supporting” those who died.
“We have to accept that the conditions in our country are not good and our people are not happy,” he said.
Also Read: FIFA World Cup: Iranian fans question whether sport belongs to the institution or to the fans amid political turmoil
“Before anything else, I would like to express my condolences to all the bereaved families in Iran,” Hajsafi said at the start of the press conference. “They need to know that we are with them, that we support them and that we sympathize with them.”
“We can’t deny the conditions – the conditions in my country are not good and the players know that too,” he added, “We are here but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be their voice. , or that we should not respect them.”
Troubles in Iran
Since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September, protests against the government have escalated across the country. At Amini’s funeral, the words “women, life, freedom” were first sung. They became a rallying cry across Iran as civil unrest unfolded.
Across Iran, men, women and children staged protests across the country and its autocratic rule.
Young women led the way, stripping and burning their head coverings, chanting anti-regime slogans and clashing with security forces in the streets despite a crackdown that has killed more than 300 people, according to a Norway-based watchdog group .
Norwegian group Iran Human Rights said in its latest update on Saturday that security forces had killed at least 304 people in a crackdown on nationwide protests since they erupted in mid-September, including 41 children and 24 women. .
The group’s director, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, said in the statement that despite the high death toll, “Iranians continue to take to the streets and are more determined than ever to bring about fundamental change. The response of the Islamic Republic is more violence.
Also read: No country for schoolgirls: How Iran is crushing dissent by killing teenagers
The Human Rights Activists News Agency, or HRANA, said 15,915 protesters have been arrested since the September 22 protests. Mizan, a news agency in the country, reports that three protesters have so far been sentenced to death in Tehran by Iran’s Revolutionary Court since the protest broke out.
The situation has also prompted the UN Human Rights Council to call on Iran to stop using the death penalty as a tool to crush protests and immediately release protesters.
Iran’s future is uncertain, but one thing is certain: the 2022 FIFA World Cup is more than just another football game for the country.
With contributions from agencies
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