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Iran arrests a soccer participant for criticizing the federal government : International

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran arrested a outstanding former member of its nationwide soccer group on Thursday over his criticism of the federal government as authorities grapple with nationwide protests which have solid a shadow over its competitors on the World Cup.

The semiofficial Fars and Tasnim information companies reported that Voria Ghafouri was arrested for “insulting the nationwide soccer group and propagandizing in opposition to the federal government.”

Ghafouri, who was not chosen to go to the World Cup, has been an outspoken critic of Iranian authorities all through his profession. He objected to a longstanding ban on girls spectators at males’s soccer matches in addition to Iran’s confrontational international coverage, which has led to crippling Western sanctions.

Extra not too long ago, he expressed sympathy for the household of a 22-year-old girl whose dying whereas within the custody of Iran’s morality police ignited the most recent protests. In current days he additionally known as for an finish to a violent crackdown on protests in Iran’s western Kurdistan area.

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The stories of his arrest got here forward of Friday’s World Cup match between Iran and Wales. At Iran’s opening match, a 6-2 loss to England, the members of the Iranian nationwide group declined to sing alongside to their nationwide anthem and a few followers expressed help for the protests.

The protests have been ignited by the Sept. 16 dying of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish girl arrested by the morality police within the capital, Tehran. They quickly escalated into nationwide demonstrations calling for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic. The western Kurdish area of the nation, the place each Amini and Ghafouri are from, has been the epicenter of the protests. Retailers have been closed within the area on Thursday following requires a basic strike.

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Iranian officers haven’t mentioned whether or not Ghafouri’s activism was a consider not selecting him for the nationwide group. He performs for the Khuzestan Foolad group within the southwestern metropolis of Ahvaz.

The protests present no signal of waning, and mark one of many greatest challenges to Iran’s ruling clerics because the 1979 Islamic Revolution that introduced them to energy. Rights teams say safety forces have used unleashed stay ammunition and chook shot on the protesters, in addition to beating and arresting them, with a lot of the violence captured on video.

At the least 442 protesters have been killed and greater than 18,000 detained because the begin of the unrest, in keeping with Human Rights Activists in Iran, a gaggle that has been monitoring the protests.

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The U.N. Human Rights Council voted Thursday to sentence the crackdown and to create an impartial fact-finding mission to analyze alleged abuses, notably these dedicated in opposition to girls and youngsters.

Authorities have blamed the unrest on hostile international powers, with out offering proof, and say separatists and different armed teams have attacked safety forces. Human Rights Activists in Iran says at the least 57 safety personnel have been killed, whereas state media have reported the next toll.

The protesters say they’re fed up after many years of social and political repression, together with a strict gown code imposed on girls. Younger girls have performed a number one function within the protests, stripping off the necessary Islamic headband to precise their rejection of clerical rule.

Some Iranians are actively rooting in opposition to their very own group on the World Cup, associating it with rulers they view as violent and corrupt. Others insist the nationwide group, which incorporates gamers who’ve spoken out on social media in solidarity with the protests, represents the nation’s individuals.

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The group’s star ahead, Sardar Azmoun, who has been vocal concerning the protests on-line, was on the bench through the opening match. Along with Ghafouri, two different former soccer stars have been arrested for expressing help for the protests.

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Different Iranian athletes have additionally been drawn into the battle.

Iranian rock climber Elnaz Rekabi competed with out sporting the necessary headband at a world competitors in South Korea in October, a transfer extensively seen as expressing help for the protests. She acquired a hero’s welcome from protesters upon returning to Iran, at the same time as she advised state media the transfer was “unintentional” in an interview that will have been given below duress.

Earlier this month, Iran’s soccer federation threatened to punish gamers on its seaside soccer group after it defeated Brazil at a world competitors in Dubai. One of many gamers had celebrated after scoring a aim by mimicking a feminine protester chopping off her hair.

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