Iran TV silences anti-regime stadium chants

Heavy reporting restrictions and reports of mobile Internet black-outs in affected areas have made it difficult to verify claims by the authorities and on social media. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 12 August 2018

Iran TV silences anti-regime stadium chants

  • Mobile phone footage shared widely on social media showed thousands of fans in Tehran’s Azadi stadium chanting “Death to the dictator”
  • Regime fears mass protest, analyst tells Arab News

LONDON: Iranian TV turned down the volume on anti-government slogans chanted during a football match amid widespread public protests over the economy and Tehran’s foreign interventions.

Videos on social media showed thousands of fans in Tehran’s Azadi stadium chanting “death to the dictator.” But state broadcaster IRIB muted the sound and avoided images of the crowd in its broadcast of the match. 

One Twitter user said: “Yesterday, when the football was being shown, the sound in the stadium was turned down to such a level that one would think they were playing in an alleyway.”

“They turned down the volume so no one could hear the slogans,” wrote another.

IRIB’s football commentators blamed “network disruption” for the low volume, without giving details.

Alireza Nader, an independent Iran scholar based in Washington, said Tehran was trying to avoid acknowledging the extent of public protests in the country.

“The regime doesn’t want to know that there is a mass opposition movement in Iran. These images prove it,” he told Arab News.


US sanctions

Protests have rocked major cities across Iran — including Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz and Mashhad — amid mounting anger over the country’s economy and political system.

They coincide with a new wave of US sanctions on Iran, the first phase of which was introduced on Tuesday, and involves blocks on financial transactions and imports of raw materials among other measures.

It emerged on Saturday that Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Abadi is to visit Iran next week to discuss economic affairs in the wake of the new sanctions. 

Abadi, who will also visit Turkey, said earlier that Iraq would comply with the sanctions but said they were a “strategic error.” 

Daesh terrorists in Syria face two choices: Surrender or death

Updated 9 min 14 sec ago

Daesh terrorists in Syria face two choices: Surrender or death

  • UN expresses concern over safety of 200 families
  • Thousands of people have streamed out of Daesh turf in recent weeks

OMAR OIL FIELD, SYRIA: Militants defending their last dreg of territory in Syria will be “killed in battle” if they do not surrender, a Kurdish-led force said on Tuesday ahead of a final showdown.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said they are trying to evacuate civilians trapped in the last half-a-square km of Daesh’s once-sprawling “caliphate” before storming the terrorist holdout.

“We are working on secluding and evacuating civilians and then we will attack. This could happen soon,” spokesman Mustafa Bali said, declining to provide more details on the operation.

Daesh militants “have only two options, either they surrender or they will be killed in battle,” he said. Daesh declared a “caliphate” across large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014.

A small hamlet of buildings in the village of Baghouz is all that is left of the proto-state, which at its height spanned an area the size of the UK.

The UN on Tuesday expressed concern over “the situation of some 200 families, including many women and children, who are reportedly trapped” in the Daesh holdout.

“Many of them are apparently being actively prevented from leaving by Daesh,” the UN said in a statement. The frontline in Baghouz was quiet on Monday afternoon. Tattered buildings and the twisted skeletons of cars dotted the side of the road.

At the entrance of the village, the SDF had turned an embattled building into a temporary base.

Thousands of people have streamed out of Daesh turf in recent weeks, but no civilians have made it out in the past three days.

Those that managed to escape have been ferried on trucks to Kurdish-held camps for the displaced to the north.

The International Rescue Committee said on Monday that 62 people, mostly children, had died on the way to the Al-Hol camp or shortly after arriving in past weeks.

Beyond Baghouz, Daesh still has thousands of fighters and sleeper cells scattered across several countries.

In Syria, it retains a presence in the vast Badia desert, and the terrorists have claimed deadly attacks in SDF-held territory.

An SDF official on Monday said that an announcement will be made this week.

“In a few days we will announce a great victory over the largest terrorist organization that waged war on the world and wreaked chaos and death everywhere,” Zeidan Al-Assi said in a statement.

Trucks entered Baghouz to evacuate remaining civilians on Tuesday, Reuters quoted an SDF source as saying. A Reuters witness in a location near Baghouz saw dozens of trucks moving along a road toward the village.