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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Conflicts: Violence during protests in Iran – footballers don’t sing anthems

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The Iran national team remains silent during the national anthem. A strong gesture that should bring trouble to footballers. In Iran, security forces are increasingly brutal against demonstrators.

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According to eyewitnesses, scenes similar to civil wars took place during protests in Kurdish regions in western and northwestern Iran. In the cities of Dschwanrud and Piranshahr there were violent clashes on Monday, with Iranian security forces allegedly shooting at demonstrators indiscriminately. On Sunday, emergency services had already cracked down on demonstrators in the Kurdish city of Mahabad. According to local residents, there are said to have been several dead and injured. The descriptions from the Kurdish areas could not be verified independently. There were also initially unconfirmed reports of clashes between demonstrators and security forces from other parts of the country on Monday.

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Meanwhile, a gesture came from the World Cup in Qatar on Monday that observers see as an important sign of solidarity with the system-critical demonstrators in Iran: the players of the Iranian national team did not sing their national anthem at the World Cup opening game against England. The Iranian state broadcaster interrupted its live broadcast at the anthem. The players could now face consequences. There had been speculation in Iran that they might be banned if they remained silent at the anthem.

Hoping for signs of solidarity

Iranian activists had hoped for such a gesture from the players. The team’s captain, Ehsan Hajsafi, on Sunday expressed his condolences to the grieving families of the victims in Iran. The team has to accept that the conditions in the country are not good and the people are not happy. The players are aware of that, he said.

Greens boss Omid Nouripour assumed even before the game that the Iranian national team would use their opening game to show solidarity with the demonstrators. “Except for two players, everyone has been critical of the regime so far, nobody sings along with the national anthem or is happy about goals,” he said in the “kicker” interview (Monday). The tournament offers a stage on which “this team can make a difference and draw a lot of attention to the plight of the people and the protests” – without the government in Tehran being able to do much about it. “In Iran, football is a distraction from a religion that is imposed in all facets by the state,” Nouripour said. The national team always offers a window to the outside.

Against the authoritarian course of the government

There have been ongoing protests in Iran since the death of the Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini in mid-September. They are directed against the conservative religious system of the Islamic Republic and against the authoritarian and uncompromising course of the government. The young woman died in police custody after being arrested for violating Islamic dress codes. Since then, tens of thousands have taken to the streets. Human rights activists estimate that thousands of Iranians have already been arrested and hundreds killed in the course of the protests.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) meanwhile attacked targets in neighboring northern Iraq again on Monday night. The Iranian news agency Tasnim reported on Twitter that bases of Kurdish separatist groups had been attacked with rockets and drones. In the past few weeks, Tehran has had positions in northern Iraq repeatedly bombed. Tehran accuses the Kurds in northern Iraq of supporting protests against the government and the Islamic system of rule in Iran.

The Revolutionary Guards are the elite unit of the armed forces in Iran and far more important than the classic army. They report directly to the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in all strategic matters.

Source: Stern

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