Iranian Women's Rights Activist Calls For World Cup Crowds To Chant Amini's Name
By RFE/RL November 11, 2022
Iranian women's rights campaigner Negin Shiraghaei has called on fans attending World Cup soccer games to chant the name of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old who died in September while in police custody over how she was wearing a head scarf.
"In memory of Mahsa, we will turn football matches into a stage of revolutionary attendance. In the 22nd minute of each match we will shout her name," Shiraghaei, an Iranian activist, entrepreneur, and a former news presenter and journalist for the BBC World Service, said in a tweet posted on November 10.
The World Cup, which is being hosted by the Middle Eastern country of Qatar, starts in 10 days and runs until December 18. Iran is one of the 32 nations participating in the tournament, and is in a group with the United States, Wales, and England in the opening stage.
Early on November 11, Sepp Blatter, the former head of world soccer's governing body, FIFA, was quoted by the Blick tabloid as saying that Iran should be excluded from the tournament and would have been if he was still in charge of the organization.
While officials say Amini died of natural causes on September 16, eyewitnesses and her family say she was beaten while in the custody of the morality police in Tehran after being detained for allegedly wearing a hijab improperly.
Amini's death has laid bare anger in Iran over the lack of women's rights and curbs on freedoms in general.
Since her death in September, Iranians have flooded streets across the country in protest, with women and even schoolgirls making unprecedented shows of support in the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.
The government has blamed Western governments for the unrest and has responded to the protests with a bloody crackdown that human rights groups say has left more than 300 dead and hundreds more injured.
Thousands of protesters have been arrested and officials have called for harsh penalties -- including the death sentence -- for offenders.
But the threats have failed to slow the broadening of the demonstrations and many athletes and celebrities have been at the forefront of voicing their anger over the government's actions.
The latest appears to be archer Parmida Ghasemi, who is seen in a video trending on social media where she receives a medal after a competition without a head scarf on. The video could not be independently verified.
Last month, climbing champion Elnaz Rekabi sparked a controversy by competing in the Asian Championships in Seoul without a head scarf.
Amid reports that she had gone missing, Rekabi surfaced to say she had "inadvertently" competed without a hijab and that it was unintentional. Still, Rekabi's supporters have expressed concerns about her safety after her return to Iran following the competition.
Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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