A popular Iranian footballer has rebuked the Islamic Republic’s authorities for their handling of recent protests that was sparked by a sudden rise in prices.
Veria Ghafouri, the captain of Tehran's Esteghlal football (soccer) club, said on the sidelines of a match against Foulad club on Saturday that “It is the right of the Iranian people to live a happy life".
The national team player, who has time and again spoken out against the government and in support of people protesting social and economic issues, added, "I do not know, are the officials not ashamed to see this situation?"
Ghafouri said that when it comes to social and civic issues, football is no longer his priority, and he uses his position to express the demands of his fans.
Following days of unrest across Iran, the match between Esteghlal and Foulad was held without spectators in Ahvaz, the provincial capital of Khuzestan that was the hotbed of the protests which then spread to several other cities.
Other celebrities are also reacting to the protests and the clamp down by security forces.
Iranian actor Ali Nassirian tacitly criticized the current situation of the country during a ceremony at Tehran’s City Theater on Saturday night, saying that holding such celebrations is beyond the people’s patience and spirit. "In such circumstances, we should not celebrate when our people are not in a good mood, we could talk instead of playing music," he added.
Iranian dissident director Jafar Panahi recently said violence is the solution of despots, describing the poverty in Iran as a result of “incompetent rulers”.