By Shammi Haque
Former national soccer player Voria Ghafouri (35) was arrested on Thursday for “anti-state propaganda”. Ghafouri was taken into custody on the orders of the judicial authorities after a training session at his club Foolad Khuzestan.
The Iranian Kurd Ghafouri has been one of the critics of the Islamic system in Iran for years, especially in connection with the discrimination against women in the country. He was also sacked from his club Esteghlal Tehran last year for his public political statements, despite being hugely popular with fans there and captaining the team. He then moved to the southern Iranian club Foolad Khuzestan.
► Ghafouri was also not nominated for the World Cup in Qatar because of his political views – although he is still one of the best full-backs in the country.
The 35-year-old is accused of insulting the Iranian national team and “smearing” their reputation. He also ran “propaganda against the system”. Ghafouri comes from Sanandaj, the capital of the Iranian province of Kurdistan.
Hundreds dead in protests
According to estimates by human rights activists, at least 445 demonstrators have been killed in the mass protests in Iran so far. 63 children were among the dead. More than 18,000 people were also arrested. The protests have covered more than 150 cities in the country since they began in mid-September.
The UN Human Rights Council has launched an independent investigation into ongoing violence against peaceful protesters in Iran. A resolution tabled by Germany and Iceland was adopted at a special session of the council on Thursday in Geneva. The violent crackdown on the protest movement will be investigated independently.