Iran’s political turmoil cast a shadow also over Iran’s second match at the World Cup on Friday, with pro-government fans harassing anti-government fans outside the stadium in Qatar.
Unlike in their first match against England, the Iran players sang along to their national anthem before the match against Wales as some fans in the stadium wept.
Some Iran fans confiscated Persian pre-revolutionary Iranian flags from supporters entering the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium and shouted insults at those wearing shirts with the slogan of the country’s protest movement, “Woman, Life, Freedom.”
Small mobs of men angrily chanted “The Islamic Republic of Iran” at women giving interviews about the protests to foreign media outside the stadium.
Shouting matches erupted outside the security checkpoint at the between fans screaming “Women, Life, Freedom” and others shouting back “The Islamic Republic.”
Many female fans were visibly shaken as Iranian government supporters surrounded them with national flags and filmed them on their phones.
One woman named Vanya, 21, who lives in Qatar, said she was terrified to ever go back to Iran after what she experienced outside the stadium on Friday.
She said Iranian government supporters “have been attacking me, they’ve been cursing at me all the way in the metro when I was getting here.”
As she walked and talked on her phone, one Iranian government supporter walked behind her with an unfurled Iranian flag chanting “Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Some anti-government fans waved signs in support of the protest movement at Iran’s first match against England earlier this week. Before that match, Iran’s players remained silent as their national anthem played. On Friday, they sang along.
The unrest in Iran was spurred by the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s morality police.
It first focused on the state-mandated hijab, or headscarf, for women, but has since morphed into one of the most serious threats to the Islamic Republic since the chaotic years following its founding.
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