Iranian Protesters & Government Supporters Clash At World Cup
Rival sets of Iranian protesters have been confronting each other at the World Cup in Qatar, and a moment anti-government demonstrations and unrest has been raging inside Iran for over the past two months.
Tensions spilled over in and outside the stadium for Iran’s 2-0 win over Wales on Friday. As the AP and ESPN reported, “fans supporting the Iranian government harassed those protesting against it and stadium security seized flags, T-shirts and other items expressing support for the protest movement that has gripped the Islamic Republic.”
Stadium security reportedly cracked down on any flags or symbols seen as undermining the officially recognized Iranian state, including preventing fans from carrying Persian pre-revolutionary flags into the venue, Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.
In some cases pro-government supporters were seen trying to rip signs or imagery with protest slogans from the fans holding them. Some groups were heard chanting “Woman, Life, Freedom” during the match.
Controversy was unleashed when during a previous game the Iranian team appeared not to participate in the singing of Iran’s national anthem, while during Friday’s game that changed as the players sang.
The Associated Press observed further of Friday’s scenes in the stadium:
Small mobs of men surrounded three different women giving interviews about the protests to foreign media outside the stadium, disrupting broadcasts as they angrily chanted, “The Islamic Republic of Iran!”
Many women fans appeared shaken as Iranian government supporters shouted at them in Farsi and filmed them close-up on their phones.
And according to more from the report:
Inside the stadium, a woman with dark red tears painted from her eyes held aloft a football jersey with “Mahsa Amini – 22” printed on the back — a reference to the 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman whose death in police custody two months ago ignited the nationwide protests in Iran, a Reuters photo showed.
A CNN report from earlier this month cited a human rights monitor to say that at least 326 people have been killed since the start of what’s been dubbed the “anti-hijab” protests.
Tehran says dozens of police and security services personnel have also been killed, and has accused “rioters” of being part of a foreign-backed plot to topple the government.
Meanwhile, there have also been tensions more broadly between local Arabs and the presence of Israelis at the World Cup:
A Saudi football fan confronting an Israeli journalist. The look on the journalist’s face should tell you everything about the situation. No amount of “Peace Deals” will normalize Israel in the region. It was, is and will forever be Palestine. pic.twitter.com/CgwDamLubL
— Hadi Nasrallah (@HadiNasrallah) November 26, 2022