Iran’s political turmoil spilled over in Qatar on Friday when pro-government fans harassed anti-government fans outside the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium ahead of the team’s FIFA World Cup match against Wales.
Shouting matches broke out at the security checkpoint outside the stadium with anti-government fans, including women, screaming “Women, Life, Freedom” and small mobs of men shouting back “The Islamic Republic.”
Some Iran fans confiscated Persian pre-revolutionary Iranian flags from supporters entering the stadium and shouted insults at those wearing shirts with Iranian protest movement’s “Woman, Life, Freedom” slogan.
Associated Press reported that many female fans were visibly shaken as Iranian government supporters surrounded them with national flags and filmed them on their phones.
One woman named Maryam, who like other Iran fans declined to give her last name for fear of government reprisals, started to cry as shouting men blowing horns surrounded her and filmed her face up close. She had the words “Woman Life Freedom” painted on her face.
Another 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. “I’m genuinely afraid for my safety here,” she told AP.
BBC meanwhile reported that security officials outside the stadium confiscated T-shirts, flags and other items displaying anti-government sentiments.
Protest action in Iran started two months ago following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the country’s morality police. It first focused on the state-mandated hijab, or headscarf, for women, but has since evolved into one of the most serious threats to the Islamic Republic since the chaotic years following its founding.
US-based NGO Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) meanwhile said Friday that Tehran’s protest crackdown and abuse of arrested demonstrators will alienate large swaths of the population and entrench anti-regime sentiment throughout Iran for decades.
HRAI stated that as of Friday, November 25, the Iranian regime had arrested over 18,000 protesters. HRAI estimated that 110 of these arrested protesters are children and teenagers.
CNN meanwhile published a report on November 21 detailing acts of sexual assault and violence the regime has been accused of committing against arrested protesters.
A young Iranian protester told NPR on November 23 that she would prefer that the regime killed her rather than arresting her.
HRAI said these abuses will continually fuel anger and resentment toward this regime, underscoring the long-term challenge the Islamic Republic is creating for itself by the brutality it is using to oppress these protesters.