Palestinian football chief urges Atletico Madrid to cancel Jerusalem game

The match, which could include stars like Antoine Griezmann, is scheduled to take place in Jerusalem on May 21, (AFP/File photo)
Updated 10 May 2019
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Palestinian football chief urges Atletico Madrid to cancel Jerusalem game

  • Palestinian football chief Jibril Rajoub has sent letters to Atletico and the European and Spanish associations
  • They will face Beitar Jerusalem, whose fans are known to chant anti-Arab slogans

RAMALLAH: The head of the Palestinian Football Association has sent letters to the European and Spanish associations demanding Spanish football giants Atletico Madrid cancel a post-season friendly with an Israeli team in Jerusalem.
Jibril Rajoub has also sent a letter to Atletico calling on them to scrap the planned May 21 game with Beitar Jerusalem, a controversial Israeli team.
“We are not against playing in Israel, but not in occupied Jerusalem,” the letter said, according to a post on the football association’s Facebook page late Thursday.
He said there were many Atletico Madrid fans in the Palestinian territories who were shocked they would play against Beitar, who he labelled “high level racists.”
Israel considers all of Jerusalem its undivided capital but the Palestinians consider the eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state.
The Teddy Stadium, where the game will be played, is in west Jerusalem.
The complaint was reminiscent of a similar one ahead of the 2018 World Cup, when Argentina were due to play Israel in Jerusalem as part of their warm-up for the tournament.
That game was eventually canceled after pressure from pro-Palestinian campaigners, though Rajoub was sanctioned by FIFA for comments in which he called on fans to burn Argentinian star Lionel Messi’s shirt.
Beitar Jerusalem have a controversial history in Israel, being the only side to have never signed an Arab Muslim player.
Beitar, whose fans have been known to chant “Death to Arabs” at matches, have of late been struggling to change their racist image.


Warning to Turkish artists as singer is jailed for ‘insulting’ Erdogan

Updated 13 min 19 sec ago
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Warning to Turkish artists as singer is jailed for ‘insulting’ Erdogan

  • Actress and singer Zuhal Olcay was charged with insulting Erdogan using hand gestures at a concert in Istanbul in 2016
  • Turkey’s appeals court has upheld an 11-month sentence, originally imposed last year but suspended

ANKARA: Accusations of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may lead to a jail sentence — even if the “insult” is in private, analysts told Arab News on Saturday.

Turkey’s appeals court has upheld an 11-month sentence on actress and singer Zuhal Olcay, 61, after a complaint that she had changed lyrics of songs and used hand gestures to insult the president at a concert in Istanbul in 2016.

The revised lyrics said: “Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it’s all empty, it’s all a lie. Life will end one day and you’ll say ‘I had a dream’.” Olcay said she had changed the lyrics only because the president’s name fitted the rhyme.

The court confirmed a sentence originally imposed last year, which had been suspended. The singer is expected to spend up to three days in prison, before being released on probation.

“This case highlights the blurring of the public and private spheres.”

Louis Fishman Academic

“Zuhal Olcay is an artist with great stature, and this case shows that no one is out of reach of a judiciary that increasingly has little independence from the government,” Louis Fishman, an assistant professor at City University of New York, told Arab News.

“The message is clear; artists in Turkey should be silent or face legal consequences that can be drawn out for years and eventually lead to prison,” said Fishman, an expert on Turkey.

He said it was significant that the hand gesture at the center of the case had happened at a private concert, and the prosecution began only after it was reported to police by someone in the audience.

“Therefore, this case also highlights the blurring of the public and private spheres,” he said. 

“In other words, there is a growing fear in Turkey of criticizing, or ‘defaming’ Erdogan, not only in public, but also in private. In both cases, vigilant citizens can report such alleged cases to the police.”