Iranian Footballer Mehmood Khabazi Slams Raisi Govt Over Hijab Protest: “I was a footballer. Talking to you, I feel that I have become a full-fledged politician.”
Mehmood Khabazi sounded very emotional as he presented the overall picture of the fiery situation in Iran to the news daily Digital. I realized that the current situation in the country has made the star footballer who played with Majid Biskar very distressed.
In 1980, East Bengal signed three Aligarh University students – Majid Biskar, Jamshid Nasiri, and Mehmood Khabaji. Majid wore the number 12 jersey and used to bloom flowers on the field. Jamshid wore the number 9 jersey. And Khabaji at first could not understand how many jersey numbers he will wear.
Coming to Calcutta, his friend Majid said, “Adding 12 and 9 makes 21. Number 21 rose on Khabaji’s back.” The next incident is history. Three friends won the hearts of Kolkata’s football fanatics. They have kept the pair of boots for a long time. Kolkata has not yet forgotten the fairy tale of this Iranian trio.
Times have changed now. A lot of water has also flowed through the Ganges. Jamshid is now in Kolkata. Majid is in Iran’s Khorramshahr. And Khabaji is now in Sweden. He has taken citizenship there. Khabaji wrote on WhatsApp on Thursday afternoon, “Iran is on the way today. All women demand freedom.”
Iran has been on fire since the murder of Mahsa Amini. Young women are up in arms against ‘Niti Police’. They are protesting against chaining women in the name of Islam by burning hijabs and cutting their hair. Men also joined the protest. At this time, the strange claim of the Iranian government, “Mahar died of disease, not the police.”
Khabaji, who was playing in Kolkata, exploded to raise the issue of the current situation in Iran. He says loudly, “Our country is ending. See I was a footballer. My focus is on knowledge games. My country is now in danger. Ali dai, Ali Karimira is in dire straits today. The country’s sports are about to close. This uneducated administration has no ability to understand the minds of the youth community. This government thinks only six years of schooling is enough. They cannot understand the meaning of school, college, or university. Students are oppressed in Iran today. The place of professors is in prison. There is a big lack of education in my country. Good films are not being made in the country. Which way is my country going?” Khabaji is raising questions for the people of the country.
Khabaji-Majid’s Iran is now burning. One example is enough to show how broken the country’s infrastructure is. 1 US dollar is now 42 thousand riyals. Khabaji says, “The country’s economy has collapsed. The government is looting the national wealth. And our people have to suffer as a result.”
President Ibrahim Raisi’s government is reluctant to budge from its position after the Hijab uprising. In this situation, the European Union (EU) imposed sanctions on Iran’s ‘policy police’, increasing the pressure on Tehran. In this context, Khabaji, who played shoulder to shoulder-with Majid-Jamshid, says, “The European Union has imposed sanctions on the country for the way Khamenei’s government is suppressing the protesters. Some people in Iran are creating problems in the name of protesting in favor of hijab in Sweden, Stockholm, and other parts of the world. The Tehran government is encouraging them. Simply put, this government is getting a bad name in the outside world.
Calcutta is Khabaji’s second home after Iran. Sharing the experience of playing in Kolkata, Khabaji said, “We were pressured by the Iranian embassy during the playing time in Kolkata. Holding posters of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, we should chant Khomeini Zindabad, Long Live Islamic Revolution. Majid, I and Jamshid directly reject that order. Let it be known that we have come to play in India, we do not want to get involved in any political activities.”
In a somewhat plaintive tone, he said, “Kolkata police knew everything. The Iranian embassy had influence over the local police administration. We were stressed. I have not renewed my passport from the Iran embassy to date. After returning from Calcutta, I took citizenship in Sweden. I still haven’t gone to the country. The day this government is ousted, I will return home.”
Khabaji was in India for 9 years. Went to play in Kashmir. Sharing that experience, Khabaji says, “When we went to Kashmir, we went to Tajjab forest. I went and saw the pictures of Khamenei painted on the pots being made in the small shops there. We protest. Tell the artist, why are you painting his picture. This is not a good person at all. We were surprised by the response we got from them. The artists told us that the Iranian embassy was told to make the pot with Khomeini’s portrait. In return, those artists were given money.”
Khabaji also said, “Your country’s government and intelligence department understood Tehran’s intentions. Hence many suspected Iranian nationals were not allowed to visit Kashmir. Indian visa was not even issued at that time.”
Iran’s late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini is called Khabaji with one hand. “Khomeini seized power in 1979 after removing the emperor of Iran. Within a year, 12,000 people were killed under his orders. There is a terrible massacre in the country. Even today people are being killed in the same way in the country. The government forces have killed about 800 people so far in the Hijab uprising. But now the fight is against this barbaric soccer. The communist parties are standing in the way, and Kurdish rebels and Mujahideen are doing an armed struggle. I don’t know when this war will end.”
Significantly, Tehran claims that America is behind this protest. At the same time, the government also claims that this movement is being supported by an Iranian left-wing organization called ‘Komla and several militant groups. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has already claimed that several militants have been arrested from the northern and northwestern provinces of Iran.
In a message to the protesters, Khabaji says, “I am with you. Kudos to your fight. don’t stop go-ahead One day there will be victory.”
The people of Iran are dreaming of women’s liberation and freedom. Food is also waiting for such dawn.