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Iran's Revolutionary Guard call for arrest of 'Asian Maradona' Ali Karimi over support for protests

Former Iran captain and Bayern Munich star has emerged as an unlikely protest leader

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are calling for the arrest of ‘Asian Maradona’ footballer Ali Karimi for his support of protesters who took to the streets after a 22-year-old woman was beaten to death for not wearing her hijab properly

  • Iranian Revolutionary Guard spokesman calls on authorities to ‘deal with’ star
  • Legend nicknamed ‘Asian Maradona’ and ‘The Magician’ played for Bayern Munich
  • He shared links to VPN services that Iranians can use to bypass censorship
  • Karimi has over 11 million Instagram followers and has played for Iran 127 times
  • The nation is in a state of chaos following the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini as the country grapples

Iran’s hardline Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) army has called for the arrest of Ali Karimi, the soccer legend dubbed the ‘Asian Maradona’.

Karimi posted a series of anti-government slogans and advice for those trying to circumvent government web censorship to his more than 11 million Instagram followers.

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IRGC spokesman Fars news agency urged Tehran police to “deal” with the so-called “agitator”.

Former Iran captain and Bayern Munich star has emerged as an unlikely protest leader

Former Iran captain and Bayern Munich star has emerged as an unlikely protest leader

Iran's capital Tehran is in upheaval from the custody of a woman

Iran’s capital Tehran is in turmoil from the custody of a ‘poorly veiled’ woman

A passionate protester cuts his hair outside the Iranian Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus today

A passionate protester cuts his hair outside the Iranian Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus today

Protesters shed fake blood outside a UN outpost in Erbil, Iran yesterday

Protesters shed fake blood outside a UN outpost in Erbil, Iran yesterday

Former national team captain Karimi, 43, made 127 caps during a glittering 18-year career that also saw ‘The Magician’ win the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich.

He was named Asian Footballer of the Year in 2004.

Karimi tweeted a warning for the Iranian military not to allow

Karimi tweeted a warning for the Iranian military not to allow ‘innocent blood’ to be shed

Karimi has since emerged as an unlikely influential voice amid a national outcry following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody last Friday.

It is believed that she was arrested and severely beaten by the police for “not wearing the veil correctly”.

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In 2020, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said “badly veiled women should feel unsafe”, in comments widely echoed by other clerics.

Karimi addressed his country’s military on Thursday in a tweet to more than 400,000 followers: “A homeland awaits you. Don’t shed innocent blood.

He also wrote of senior officials on Instagram last week: “Their kids are leaving [the country]; our children are dying.

Karimi (pictured training ahead of the Asian Football Cup in 2007) has long been a state critic

Karimi (pictured training ahead of the Asian Football Cup in 2007) has long been a state critic

Karimi (left) celebrates a goal scored against Al Shabab Al Arabi in Tehran ten years ago

Karimi (left) celebrates a goal scored against Al Shabab Al Arabi in Tehran ten years ago

Karimi (pictured left, with other winners) won Asian Footballer of the Year in 2004

Karimi (pictured left, with other winners) won Asian Footballer of the Year in 2004

London-based Iranian football club founder Ben Charedi told The Telegraph: “Karimi’s massive popularity among young Iranians has more to do with his political views than his outstanding sportsmanship.

“He never bowed to the regime.”

President Ebrahim Raisi said yesterday that Iran must “deal decisively with those who oppose the security and tranquility of the country”.

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Residents of Tehran have likened the protest scenes to “a war zone”, while celebrities including Games of Thrones actress Sophie Turner, Sharon Stone and Hailey Bieber joined in the outrage.

Thousands of people marched through the Iranian capital in a pro-hijab rally on Friday, paying tribute to security forces who moved to quell a week of protests by alleged

Thousands marched through Iran’s capital in a pro-hijab rally on Friday, paying tribute to security forces who moved to quell a week of protests by alleged ‘conspirators’

Police say Mahsa had a heart attack, but an eyewitness claims she was beaten in a van before falling into a coma.

Her distraught family are fighting for the truth as they say she had no underlying health conditions and saw bruises on her body.

Women in the country have been seen burning their hijabs and headscarves in the street, as well as filming themselves cutting their hair.

People around the world are also voicing their support for women’s rights, with radical feminist activist group Femen organizing a half-naked protest outside the Iranian Embassy in Madrid, Spain.

Femen activists hold a half-naked protest outside the Iranian Embassy in Madrid, Spain

Femen activists hold a half-naked protest outside the Iranian Embassy in Madrid, Spain

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