New Delhi [India], November 29 (ANI): Iranian players' refusal to sing the national anthem was not a sign of the anti-government or anti-hijab protests which started after Mahsa Amini's death, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) President Peyman Jebelli said.
In an interview with ANI, Jebelli said, "All Iranians are free to express their opinions about different events in Iran or outside Iran but I don't think that Iranian players refusing to sing the national anthem was a sign of supporting the anti-hijab protest."Earlier, on November 21, Iranian football team players refused to sing their national anthem before their opening match against England at the shopping mode FIFA World Cup in Qatar, in apparent solidarity with protesters back home.
As Iran's national anthem played at Khalifa International Stadium, television cameras showed the starting players standing stoically, but not singing. Iran lost the match to England, 6-2. After players refused, several reports came which stated that the national team showed support for the anti-government protests which started after Mahsa Amini's death.
While talking with ANI, IRIB President over Iranian players' refusal to sing the national anthem, said, "Iran has no problem with our football team players refusing to sing the national anthem during a FIFA match in Doha. We don't have certain rules in Iran. People show respect by standing only during the national anthem."He accused the Western media of wasting their time and being much interested in doing anti-Iran stories.
"On the national anthem issues, Western and mainstream media has much interest to do anti stories against Iran and to use against the Iranian people," he said.
Reacting to Indians supporting the anti-hijab protest, Jebelli said that everyone has different ideas and opinions about hijab and they are free to do so.
Iran has headed into the tournament amid a backdrop of mass protests against the regime, following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody in September.
The unrest in Iran began in September when a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, died while in the custody of the morality police. Protests have since spread across the nation, challenging the authority of the government even as security forces have cracked down. Hundreds of people have died in the violence, reported Al Jazeera.
At least 419 protesters have been killed since September, including 60 children, and more than 17,000 people have been arrested, according to the Iranian Human Rights Activists News Agency's latest statistics. (ANI)