Football legend’s family snatched from flight out of Iran

Amin Mohammad Jamali/Getty Images

Iranian authorities on Monday ordered the landing of a flight carrying Ali Daei’s family members, accusing the Iranian soccer star and his relatives of taking part in the anti-government protestsaccording to the Iranian news agency IRNA.

Daei’s wife and daughter were traveling to Dubai from Tehran on a Mahan Air flight when the plane was ordered to land on the Iranian island of Kish, about one hundred miles outside the city, and they were removed from the flight. IRNA says the authorities allowed them to return to Tehran.

In a continuing wave of protests against The leadership of Iran– sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody after being arrested for breaking Iran’s strict dress codes – Daei has been one of the country’s most outspoken stars. As well as boycotting this year’s World Cup, the director of football shut down a jewelry store and restaurant he owns in solidarity with protesters for three days earlier this month. Both establishments were later closed by the authorities.

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Similarly, Iran’s official news agency accused Daei and his family of “supporting anti-revolutionary groups and rioters, and calling for a strike”. While another semi-official Tasnim news agency said Daei’s wife was banned from leaving Iran but managed to board illegally.

This latest incident involving Daei’s family is another example of the Islamic Republic’s tightening restrictions on dissidents in light of this year’s protests. This month, Iran hanged two men in connection with the demonstrations. While social media has spent the past few months speculating on how many protesters the state has ordered killed, these are the first confirmed executions.

So far, neither Daei nor his family have publicly responded to the theft incident.

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