Iranian police arrest top footballers on New Year’s Eve | Iran
Iranian police briefly detained several top footballers during a raid on a New Year’s Eve party in eastern Tehran where men and women allegedly mixed and alcohol was allegedly served in violation of an Islamic ban, Iranian media reported on Sunday.
News of the brief arrests of the players, who have not been identified, came amid news of the release of Iranian dissident journalist Keyvan Samimi, jailed in December 2020 for “conspiracy against national security”.
Tasnim news agency said of the arrests of footballers: “Several current and former players of one of the main football clubs in Tehran were arrested last night during a mixed party in the city of Damavand” .
The agency said: “Some of these players were in abnormal condition due to alcohol consumption.”
It was not specified how many footballers were detained.
Mixing of the sexes outside of marriage and the consumption of alcohol are prohibited by Iranian Islamic laws. Iranian law only allows non-Muslims to consume alcohol for religious purposes. It is forbidden to dance with the opposite sex.
Social restrictions are among the issues that have caused mass unrest in recent months. Iran has been rocked by weeks of protests that have spread across the country following the September 16 death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman arrested by vice squad for allegedly carrying her hijab inappropriately. Iranian authorities said their investigation showed she died of natural causes due to a pre-existing condition, but her family claim she was beaten.
Protests against the clerical establishment have turned into a broad movement to challenge the theocracy that has ruled Iran since 1979. Iranian officials say hundreds have been killed in the unrest, including members of the security forces , and thousands were arrested.
Last month, Iran executed two men, both 23, who had been convicted of attacks on security forces amid the protests.
A number of current and former footballers as well as other athletes and personalities have been arrested or questioned by authorities after expressing their support for the protests.
Meanwhile, the reform-minded Shargh daily reported on Sunday the release of 73-year-old journalist Samimi, who in December 2020 was sentenced to three years in prison and detained in Semnan, nearly 200 km (125 miles) east. is from Tehran. Shargh did not specify the date of his release.
Samimi was released from prison on medical grounds in February 2022.
But he returned to prison in May after being suspected of carrying out activities against national security, the Mehr news agency reported.
In December, he posted a message from prison supporting the protest movement over Amini’s death. Samimi had served prison terms before and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
State media reported on Sunday that a member of Iran’s security forces was shot dead during protests in the town of Semirom over the weekend.
“A Basij member was killed in the town of Semirom by armed criminals,” the official IRNA news agency reported, referring to the paramilitary force linked to the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
IRNA said protesters gathered on Saturday evening in the city, about 470 km (290 miles) south of the capital Tehran in the central province of Isfahan.
They gathered in front of the regional administration building and other places in Semirom, he added.
“Security forces were deployed to restore order in the city and in some cases there were clashes with several rioters,” the report said.
The court said nine other people had been sentenced to death. Activists said this week that dozens of protesters are also facing charges that could carry the potential death penalty.
AFP and Reuters contributed to this report