Iran’s Revolutionary Guard call for arrest of ‘Asian Maradona’ footballer Ali Karimi over his support for protesters taking to the streets after woman, 22, was beaten to death for not wearing her hijab properly
- Iranian Revolutionary Guard mouthpiece calls on authorities to ‘deal with’ star
- Legend dubbed ‘Asian Maradona’ and ‘The Magician’ played for Bayern Munich
- He has shared links to VPN services Iranians can use to get around censorship
- Karimi has more than 11 million Instagram followers and played for Iran 127 times
- Nation is in state of chaos after custody death of Mahsa Amini, 22, grips country
Iran‘s hardline Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) army has called for the arrest of Ali Karimi, the football legend dubbed the ‘Asian Maradona’.
Karimi has posted a series of anti-government slogans and advice for those trying to circumvent the government’s web censorship to his more than 11 million Instagram followers.
IRGC mouthpiece Fars News Agency urged police in Tehran to ‘deal with’ the so-called ‘rabble-rouser’.
The former Iranian team captain and Bayern Munich star has become an unlikely protest leader
Iran’s capital Tehran has been in upheaval since the custody of an ‘improperly veiled’ woman
An impassioned protestor cuts his hair outside the Iranian Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus today
Demonstrators pour fake blood on themselves outside a UN outpost in Erbil, Iran yesterday
Ex-national team captain Karimi, 43, made 127 caps in a glittering 18-year career that also saw ‘The Magician’ win the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich.
He was named Asian Footballer of the Year in 2004.
Karimi tweeted a warning for the Iranian army not to allow ‘innocent blood’ to be shed
Karimi has since become an unlikely influential voice amid nationwide outcry following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody last Friday.
She is thought to have been detained and severely beaten by police for ‘not wearing the veil correctly’.
In 2020, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said ‘improperly veiled women should be made to feel unsafe’, in comments echoed widely by fellow lead clerics.
Karimi addressed his nation’s army in a tweet to more than 400,000 followers on Thursday: ‘A homeland is waiting for you. Do not let innocent blood be shed.’
He also wrote of high-ranking officials on Instagram last week: ‘Their children leave [the country]; our children die.’
Karimi (pictured training before the Asian Football Cup in 2007) has long been a state critic
Karimi (left) celebrates a goal scored against Al Shabab Al Arabi in Tehran a decade ago
Karimi (pictured left, with fellow award winners) won Asian Footballer of the Year in 2004
London-based Iranian football club founder Ben Charedi told The Telegraph: ‘Karimi’s massive popularity among Iran’s youths is more to do with his political views, rather than his outstanding sportsmanship.
‘He has never bowed to the regime.’
President Ebrahim Raisi said yesterday Iran must ‘deal decisively with those who oppose the country’s security and tranquility’.
Residents in Tehran have compared protest scenes to ‘a war zone’, while celebrities including Games of Thrones actress Sophie Turner, Sharon Stone and Hailey Bieber have joined in the outrage.
Thousands marched through Iran’s capital during a pro-hijab rally on Friday, paying tribute to security forces who have moved to quell a week of protests by supposed ‘conspirators’
Police say Mahsa had a heart attack, but an eyewitness claims she was beaten in a custody van before falling into a coma.
Her distraught family are fighting for the truth as they say she had no underlying health issues and saw bruises on her body.
Women in the country have been seen burning their hijabs and headscarves in the street, as well as filming themselves cutting their hair.
Around the world, people are also voicing their support for women’s rights, with radical feminist activist group Femen staging a semi-naked protest in front of the Iranian embassy in Madrid, Spain.
Activists Femen staging a semi-naked protest in front of the Iranian embassy in Madrid, Spain