Iranian-Kurdish footballer arrested on incitement charges

Iranian-Kurdish footballer arrested on incitement charges

An Iranian-Kurdish footballer has been arrested on charges of incitement against the regime as Tehran cracks down on anti-government protesters, according to state-aligned news agency Tasim.

Voria Ghafouri, who plays for the Khuzestan Foolad soccer team, was arrested on charges of dishonorable and insulting comportment towards Iran's national soccer team. Ghafouri had a lot of harsh reactions in support of the recent rioters and was inciting them, according to the state affiliated Fars News Agency.

The star footballer was fired in June from his previous team, Esteghlal FC, for criticizing the government in May when he rebuked him for handling protests sparked by a sudden rise in prices. After the government cut state subsidies, the cost of food went up by 300% in some cases, causing Iranian authorities to criticise Ghafouri in relation to the protests earlier in the year.

Iran has been swept over by national anti-regime demonstrations triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini in September, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who was detained by the country's morality police for not wearing her hijab properly.

The demonstrations shed light on the longstanding grievances held by the country's Kurdish minority group, whom security forces have targeted in their campaign to clamp down on dissent in Iran.

According to the Norway-based Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, Ghafouri is from Sanandaj, Iran's second largest Kurdish city.

Ghafouri is among a slew of Iranian athletes who have spoken out in support of the national uprising.

Parviz Boroumand, Iran's former national team goalkeeper, was arrested last week for destroying public property in Tehran during a protest on November 15, according to Tasnim.

Boroumand, 47, played for Persepolis FC and Esteghlal FC before retiring in 2007 to focus on social activism and humanitarian work. He was outspoken about his support for protesters in Iran on his social media channels before his arrest.

After their arrests, former Iranian footballer Ali Karimi posted his support for Ghafouri and Boroumand. Karimi posted Thursday along with a picture of Ghafouri dressed in Kurdish garb, a tribute to the honorable Ghafouri.

Karimi, who has been living outside Iran, has been subject to intense scrutiny from the Iranian government for his support for protesters since September of last year.

In November, archer Parmida Ghasemi showed her support for anti-government protests by removing her hijab during an awards ceremony in Tehran. Irani climber Elnaz Rekabi had to compete in South Korea without her mandatory hijab on in the month before, later saying it had fallen off accidentally. It was not clear whether Rekabi's comments were under duress.