SPEECH IMPEDIMENT: Iranian soccer fans arrested at the World Cup for WHAT?

SPEECH IMPEDIMENT: Iranian soccer fans arrested at the World Cup for WHAT?

A disturbing video has surfaced showing Iranian soccer fans being arrested at the World Cup in Qatar on Saturday after Iran beat Wales 2-0 in their match.

The crime? Wearing t-shirts with the phrase “#WomenLifeFreedom” in protest of the murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini – who died in custody after being arrested by Iranian police for wearing her hijab incorrectly.

According to Saeed Kamalinia, he and several others were taken into custody and held for at least four hours – with three of Kamalinia’s friends still detained.

“A dark day for football fans and FIFA. We are just being released from the police station 4 hours after the finish of the game, while 3 of our friends are still in custody. Crime? Wearing #WomenLifeFreedom T-shirts,” Kamalinia tweeted.

“They were not violent to us; actually tried to be nice but another person was dragged on the ground for wearing the Royal flag (Shiro Khorshid) T-shirt.”

Watch the video below. 

Holding up signs with the names of Amini and Iranian soccer player Voria Ghafouri, Kamalinia said, “Wearing #WomenLifeFreedom t-shirt in Iran’s game and we were treated like we were carrying a ticking bomb.”

Ghafouri, a former member of the national team, was kidnapped in Qatar by Iranian officials two days after posting a video on social media urging the government to stop the violence against protesters.

Human and civil rights advocates have condemned FIFA’s decision to hold the international football competition in Qatar due to the country’s well-known oppression of members of the LGBTQ community and of political dissidents.

Fans, both in Germany and across Europe, have protested allowing Qatar to host the World Cup, in part because of the country’s laws criminalizing LGBTQ people, as well as concerns about the deaths and repeated mistreatment of migrant workers and other human rights abuses.

Germany was one of seven European nations that had adopted the “OneLove” armbands to protest Qatari laws that restrict the rights of LGBTQ individuals, Metro Weekly reported.

“While the seven soccer federations wrote to FIFA in September informing it of their plans to wear the “OneLove” armband, FIFA did not respond until last weekend, when it threatened to impose sporting sanctions on teams whose captains wore the armbands during games. While all seven teams have opted against wearing the armbands, some federations have criticized FIFA’s stance with Germany being one of the most vocal critics,” Metro Weekly wrote.

Thankfully, Kamalinia and his compatriots were released without harm. But it raises an even bigger question – why was the authoritarian country able to host the World Cup in the first place?

A beloved Iranian footballer was kidnapped, and Iranian fans were arrested – and that’s just what we know.

Fascism is rising worldwide, but so are advocates for democracy. The world is vocalizing – pushing back and speaking out against the suppression of voices fighting for freedom, and demanding equality and justice.

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.