A religious conservative politician, Ali Motahari, has called on Iranian footballers playing abroad to advertise Islam through showing off their fasting during the month of Ramadan.
The former lawmaker said in a tweet on Saturday that Porto’s striker Mehdi Taremi breaking his fast in the middle of a sensitive match is a good advertisement for Islam.
He added that other Iranian players in Europe should be like this.
Motahari, whose father was a famous cleric, has been critical of political suppression in Iran in recent years, but he remains a religious conservative.
Motahari also referred to similar symbolic gestures such as a sajdah -- the act of kneeling and bowing to touches the ground with the forehead – by Egyptian footballer Mohamed Salah after scoring goals, and Real Madrid’s French player Karim Benzema breaking his fast only minutes before an important match against Chelsea.
His comment came as the Islamic Republic is trying to encourage people to observe Islamic traditions. Fewer people have been observing the Muslim fasting period in recent years but police arrest and fine anyone who breaks the rules in public.
As the fasting month of Ramadan started, Iran’s prosecutor-general called on the police to confront those eating and drinking in their cars during daylight.
Every year police enforce a national plan to deal with those who break Ramadan rules in public, and transgressors are sometimes sentenced to months of detention and lashes.