Rights group: Protester celebrating World Cup defeat killed by Iranian security forces

The flags of Iran, left, and the United States are carried on to the pitch before the start of the World Cup group B soccer match between Iran and the United States at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

A protester who celebrated Iran’s defeat in the World Cup this week was killed by Iranian security forces, according to a human rights organization.

Iran Human Rights said Mehran Samak, 27, was shot in the head on Tuesday night in the Iranian city Bandar Anzali as he was celebrating his country’s loss against the U.S. soccer team in Qatar earlier that day.

“The Islamic Republic’s Forensic Medical Organisation is refusing to return #MehranSamak’s body to his family despite a crowd of people gathering outside the building to support them,” the rights group tweeted on Wednesday.

A photo shared by a journalist covering Iran showed bullet holes in Samak’s car, which was parked on the streets.

The U.S. men’s soccer team defeated the Iranian team 1-0 in a politically charged match, following tensions between the two countries over ongoing protests in Iran.

Ahead of the match, Iranian state media had called for the American team to be banned after the U.S. Soccer Federation posted a now-deleted image on social media that doctored the Iranian flag in support of the protests.

Iranian protesters have been demonstrating since September after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody.

Amini was arrested for improperly wearing a hijab and her death has renewed calls for women’s rights in Iran.

After the loss on Tuesday night, soccer fans in Iran’s Kurdish region went out in droves to celebrate.

Videos shared on Twitter showed Iranian high-school students dancing in Saqqez, Amini’s hometown, after Tuesday’s soccer loss.

Iran has cracked down hard on protesters, with human rights groups estimating more than 450 protesters have died and at least 18,000 detained.

The Iranian soccer team refused to sing their country’s national anthem when the World Cup started in a show of support for protesters.

Tags Bandar Anzali Iran Iran Human Rights Organization Iranian protests Mehran Samak Qatar U.S. Soccer Federation World Cup

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