A 26-year-old professional soccer player in Iran is facing the death penalty after protesting in support of women’s rights in the nation.
Amir Nasr-Azadani was arrested back in November after participating in nationwide pro-women protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman arrested by the morality police for an alleged dress code violation who then died while in their custody.
Authorities have charged Nasr-Azadani in connection with the death of an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander. IranWire has reported, based on anonymous sources, that the athlete wasn’t near the violence, and instead merely shouting slogans along with other peaceful protesters for a few hours.
Two others involved in the protests have reportedly already been executed for the same charge Nasr-Azadani is facing: assisting in “moharebeh,” which loosely translates to “enmity against God,” according to Newsweek.
Singer Shakira (full name Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll) on Sunday highlighted Nasr-Azadani’s participation in the protest and death sentence via Twitter, where she has more than 53 million followers.
“Today at the final of the World Cup, I only hope the players on the field and the whole world remembers that there’s a man and fellow footballer called Amir Nasr, on death row, only for speaking in favor of Women’s rights,” the 45-year-old posted.
“I hope there’s more than a minute of silence in our hearts to remember what’s important and more than one voice united screaming for what is just,” Shakira added.
I hope there’s more than a minute of silence in our hearts to remember what’s important and more than one voice united screaming for what is just.
— Shakira (@shakira) December 18, 2022
FIFPRO, the global representative organization for 65,000 professional soccer players, said last week that they stand with Nasr-Azadani and called for the “immediate removal of his punishment.”
“FIFPRO is shocked and sickened by reports that professional footballer Amir Nasr-Azadani faces execution in Iran after campaigning for women’s rights and basic freedom in his country,” the union posted to its Twitter account.
“We stand in solidarity with Amir and call for the immediate removal of his punishment,” the organization added.
FIFPRO is shocked and sickened by reports that professional footballer Amir Nasr-Azadani faces execution in Iran after campaigning for women’s rights and basic freedom in his country.
We stand in solidarity with Amir and call for the immediate removal of his punishment. pic.twitter.com/vPuylCS2ph
— FIFPRO (@FIFPRO) December 12, 2022
Iranian state media announced two weeks ago that the family home of rock climber Elnaz Rekabi had been demolished, just months after the female athlete participated in an international competition without her hijab.
Rekabi, 33, later apologized for not wearing her state-mandated head covering, but the moment was perceived as a protest in connection to the death of Amini.
A top Iranian official in early December claimed the state’s morality police have been abolished, The Daily Wire reported.
“The morality police had nothing to do with the judiciary and have been shut down from where they were set up,” Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri claimed.