Iran soccer celebrations turn into anti-government protests

Soccer celebrations in several Iranian cities, including the capital Tehran, turned political late on Friday with chants against Iran’s clerical rulers, footage circulating on social media showed.

Fans took to the streets in several cities after Tehran-based Persepolis Football Club were crowned champions of Iran for a fifth consecutive year.

The celebrations became political in several cities with chants against Iran’s theocratic rulers, videos posted on social media showed.

“Death to the dictator,” demonstrators in Tehran chanted in one video shared on social media. The slogan is used regularly in anti-government demonstrations in Iran against the country’s highest authority, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

“The clerics must get lost,” protesters in Golestan, a city southwest of the capital Tehran, chanted in another video, referring to Iran’s clerical rulers.

Security forces drove on motorcycles into the crowd to disperse them in Nasimshahr, a city south of Tehran, prompting the crowd to chant against them, another video showed.

Celebrations also turned political in the central city of Arak and the western city of Kermanshah, according to videos shared online.

Protests sparked by a water crisis have been taking place in Iran since July 15.

The protests began in the oil-rich southwestern Khuzestan province but have since spread to other parts of the country.

Iran has so far confirmed the death of five people, including a police officer, in violence connected to the protests. Iranian officials have blamed unknown “rioters” for the deaths.

Activists reject the official narrative and maintain the deaths were caused by security forces opening fire on protesters. Iranian officials, who typically use the term “rioters” to refer to protesters, have blamed them for the deaths in the past.

Last week, Amnesty International said security forces had killed at least eight protesters and bystanders in Khuzestan since protests erupted in the province on July 15.

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