Iran’s latest chilling attack on freedom of speech: How Ayatollahs tried BANNING our reporter from reporting a World Cup warm up match after latest hijab protest over death of woman in police custody
- MOS reporter Ian Herbert told he couldn’t attend Iran vs Uruguay football match
- Ban lifted at 11th hour after Iranian FA under pressure from football authorities
- During match on Friday two men were ejected for holding image of Mahsa Amini
- Protests have erupted across Iran and around world after the death of Ms Amini
Iran tried to block a Mail on Sunday reporter from attending an international football match on European soil in a chilling attack on freedom of speech.
Match organisers in Austria informed journalists that the decision to ban them ‘was made by the Iranian FA’ amid attempts from the authoritarian state to suppress coverage of widespread protests.
The ban was lifted at the 11th hour after the Iranian FA came under pressure from footballing authorities to allow journalists and fans into the game – a friendly between Iran and Uruguay.
During the match, peaceful protesters were frog-marched out of the stadium by Austrian police for demonstrating against the death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman in police custody.
Mailman Ian Herbert said: ‘I’ve been writing about sport for 15 years and no one has ever tried to ban me from a match.
‘How dare they try to deny journalists access to a football fixture on European soil? Our inquiries showed that this was quite obviously an act by the Iranian state. Only when we met the team’s Portuguese manager did they change their tune and allow us in.
Police and stadium security staff approached two men and asked them to hand over a placard that bore a picture of Ms Amini and read: ‘A 22-year-old Iranian girl was murdered on September 16 by the police of the Islamic Republic of Iran’
Protests have erupted across Iran and around the world after the death of Ms Amini, which followed her arrest by the hard-line state’s morality police for ‘improperly’ wearing a headscarf. Pictured: a protest in Istanbul on Tuesday
‘The expulsion of two supporters who were merely holding up an A4 image of Mahsa Amini on Friday night was a disgrace. The local police are now tying themselves up in knots trying to justify throwing them out of the ground.
‘I expect to see bigger protests when Iran play another game in Austria on Tuesday night. This is an embarrassment to Austria, who are hosting Iran for a World Cup preparation camp.
‘This augurs extremely badly for Iran ahead of a Qatar World Cup, where their opening game will be against England.’
Protests have erupted across Iran after the death of Ms Amini, which followed her arrest by the hard-line state’s morality police for ‘improperly’ wearing a headscarf.
Her death has reignited anger in the fundamentalist Muslim nation and furious crowds of women have gathered across Iran, publicly burning veils and cutting their hair in a show of defiance. Protests are expected to continue during the World Cup.
The two protesting fans were ejected during the first half of Iran’s 1-0 victory over Uruguay. The fixture was held in the city of St Polten.
Police and stadium security staff approached two men and asked them to hand over a placard that bore a picture of Ms Amini and read: ‘A 22-year-old Iranian girl was murdered on September 16 by the police of the Islamic Republic of Iran.’
When they refused, the men were marched out of the stadium, with footage showing one man being pushed towards the exit by three police officers and at least one security guard as he declared his right to protest peacefully.
The death of Mahsa Amini (pictured) has reignited anger in the fundamentalist Muslim nation and furious crowds of women have gathered across Iran, publicly burning veils and cutting their hair in a show of defiance
The game was due to be played behind closed doors, as the Iranian government feared further protests in full view of European spectators, but, after pressure from footballing authorities, this was reversed at the 11th hour and around 400 fans were allowed in.
Shahin Gobadi, from the National Council of Resistance of Iran, said: ‘The free world should be on the side of the Iranian people. It should allow the Iranian diaspora to expose the mullahs’ atrocities and condemn this cruel censorship.’
Austrian police spokesman Raimund Schwaigerlehner said the protesters left the stadium “voluntarily” and insisted there was “no intervention on the part of Iranian government officials”.
He said: ‘In Austria, the freedom to protest is an important right. But the assembly must be registered with the competent authority.’
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