Fans, Protesters, and Basijis at Hejazi's Funeral
by CORRESPONDENT in Tehran
26 May 2011 05:36
[ briefs ] Approximately 25,000 mourners turned up to the funeral ceremony of Iranian football hero Naser Hejazi at Azadi Stadium on Wednesday, according to BBC Persian. Another thousand or so also trekked out to Beheshteh Zahra cemetery in south Tehran, where the atmosphere got slightly political.
Protesters started shouting "Mir Hossein" and "Mubarak, bin Ali, nobat-e Seyyed Ali," or "Seyyed Ali's turn," referring to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, which provoked isolated attacks by Basijis, a source told Tehran Bureau.
For the most part, however, it was reportedly passionate but controlled, probably because of the enormous police presence. "It was ridiculous," one 27-year-old said. "We came to pay respect to one of the greatest keepers in football history, and what we got was Basijis, army and guards."
Also, in the lead-up to the funeral, some 5 million people were sending text messages to pay respect to Hejazi on a sports show on Iranian TV. Because he had made it clear he disagreed with the government's economic policies before he died, some Green Movement supporters saw it as a way to gauge support for the opposition.
Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau