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Iran football team refuses to sing national anthem before FIFA match

Doha: Iranian football team players on Monday refused to sing the national anthem before FIFA World Cup match against England, in solidarity with the ongoing protests in Iran, following the death of the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, by the “morality police.”

Four days before the match, the captain of the national team, Ali Reza Jahanbakhsh, had indicated that the issue of whether or not to perform the national anthem was being discussed, and that the decision would be taken collectively.

All of the 11 players were silent during the playing of the national anthem at Khalifa International Stadium in Ar-Rayyan.

Some Iranian fans at the match, holding banners with the slogan “Women, Life and Freedom”, one of the main slogans of the ongoing popular uprising in Iran.

On Sunday, Iranian Minister of Sports and Youth, Hamid Sajjadi, arrived with a number of guests of honor to participate in the opening ceremonies of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Sajjadi arrived in Qatar accompanied by the Iranian national team and was received by Iran’s ambassador to Doha, Hamid Reza Dehghani Boudeh, and the President of the Iranian Football Association, Mahdi Taj, and his deputy, Mansour Qanbarzadeh.

Protests have erupted in Iran since September 16, following the death of Mahsa Amini, 3 days after she was arrested by the morality police for not complying with the strict rules of dress in the Islamic Republic.

Mahsa Amini death led to an escalation of popular anger and sparked protests, the largest in Iran in nearly three years, and a crackdown during which dozens of protesters were killed and hundreds arrested.

The protesters, who are out in demonstrations led by the majority of women, demand answers and an investigation into the cause and manner of Amini’s death, the abolition of the strict veil laws and the dissolution of the morality police that enforce these laws.

Protests in Iran entered their tenth week, on Friday, November18, 2022, and swept through most cities and regions.

The death toll from anti-regime protests in Iran rose on Sunday to at least 419, including 60 children, some of whom did not exceed eight years, according to the HRANA organization of human rights activists in the country. While no less than 17,451 demonstrators were arrested in 155 cities.

HRANA also pointed out in a report published on its website that until November 20, protest marches were organized in 142 universities across the country, while the security forces arrested no less than 540 students.

It is noteworthy that the death of Mahsa Amini sparked anger over several issues, including the restrictions imposed on personal freedoms and strict rules related to women’s clothing, as well as the living and economic crisis that Iranians suffer from, not to mention the strict laws imposed by the regime and its political and religious composition in general.