Iran’s wrestling president says ‘Death to America’ before US match

Select Language:

The president of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s wrestling federation, Alireza Dabir, declared “Death to America” in a television interview on Wednesday prior to a slated February wrestling dual meet between the national teams of the US and Iran to be held in Texas.

“We always chant ‘Death to America’ but importantly is showing it in action,” said Dabir, who won a gold medal in freestyle wrestling for Iran at the Olympics in Sydney in 2000. Dabir added that “A doctor, he might even be wearing a tie, but he is doing his job well. He is saying ‘Death to America.’ Some talk a lot but don’t do much. We need to prove it with an action that [Death to America].”

Dabir’s call for the abolition of the United States comes a little over a month before the US national team is slated to compete against Iran’s team in Arlington, Texas on February 12 in what Gary Abbott from USA Wrestling termed “the first-ever Bout at the Ballpark.”

Sardar Pashaei, the Iranian-American former head coach of Iran’s national Greco-Roman team, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that “It’s painful for me as a wrestler and national team coach to listen to these words. When I and many other athletes who have been forced to leave their homeland due to pressure from the Iranian government see Alireza Dabir, the president of the Iranian Wrestling Federation, say ‘Death to America, while he has the US Green Card in his pocket.”

Pashaei, a former world champion in Greco-Roman wrestling, oversees the United for Navid campaign. The organization seeks justice for Navid Afkari, a champion Greco-Roman Iranian wrestler, who the clerical regime executed in 2020 because he protested against the regime’s political and economic corruption in 2018.

Pashaei, asked: “Why should someone (Alireza Dabir) who has been one of the athletes very close to the Iranian government in all the past years and part of the government’s propaganda be able to travel freely to the United States?”

Dabir was elected president of Iran’s wrestling federation in 2019 and also won the 1998 World Wrestling Championship.

Pashaei added that “The US government and security agencies should take the entry of such people seriously because they are part of a force very close to the Iranian government. In the past, we saw the presence of terrorists in the guise of ambassadors and diplomats, and now we see the regime sending its people in the form of athletes, including Javad Foroughi, a shooter member of the Revolutionary Guards at the Tokyo Olympics.”

Foroughi was sent to Syria to aid the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, which has killed over 500,000 people in the war-ravaged nation. The United States government designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. The IRGC is responsible for the murders of over 600 US military personnel, according to the US government.

Pashaei said that “We, the members of the United for Navid campaign, express our deep concern over the entry of people close to the government, and we also remind the American Wrestling Federation that holding a friendly match between Iran and the United States will only serve the Iranian government’s propaganda. A government that executes innocent wrestlers, imprisons its brothers, barred women from competing in wrestling, and barred millions of women doesn’t deserve to enter America. These competitions will never create empathy and peace when the Iranian Wrestling Federation comes to America with the slogan of death to America. We call on all American wrestlers and athletes to react to such incidents and to ban government officials and fellow athletes as long as Iran does not allow women to attend and imprisons and executes athletes.”

The Jerusalem Post sent a press query to Rich Bender, the executive director of USA wrestling, seeking comment on the Iranian wrestling federation’s call for the destruction of the United States. In contrast to elite American Olympic and world medalists wrestlers, ranging from Ben Askren to Kyle Dake to J’den Cox to Sally Roberts, Bender declined to comment in September 2020 about Iran’s execution of the champion Greco-Roman wrestler Navid Afkari. USA wrestling has remained silent about the Iranian regime’s executions of wrestlers over the years.

The case of Afkari became an international cause célèbre because former US President Donald Trump, the International Olympic Committee, Dana White, the president President of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and the German and British governments, urged the leaders of the theocratic state in Tehran not to hang Afkari.

It is unclear if Dabir’s call for the obliteration of the US will compel Bender to cancel the dual meet.

Lawdan Bazargan, an Iranian-American human rights activist, who was imprisoned in Tehran’s infamous Evin prison for political dissent, told the Post that “It’s is a shame that the US gives residency to people like the president of Iran’s Wrestling Federation, the Oberlin College professor Mohammad Jafar Mahallat, and Princeton University professor Seyed Hossein Mousavian who want to destroy the United States.”

She said that “Dabir, who wants to act on the slogan of death to the US, received a green card while hundreds of thousands of Iranians who were forced to leave Iran by the Islamic Regime are in refugee camps around the world waiting for a country to accept them.”

Bazargan noted that “Mahallati is accused of crimes against humanity by the Amnesty International for his involvement in the 1988 Massacre of political prisoners and has the blood of Iranians on his hands.”

Mousavian, who is implicated in Mykonos restaurant assassinations in Berlin Germany in 1992, where three Iranian-Kurdish opposition leaders and their translator were killed in cold blood, gives speeches and writes books and articles normalizing the Islamic Regime of Iran’s atrocities in Iraq & Syria and their aggressive and dangerous nuclear program.”

The United States state department—under democrat and republication administrations—has classified Iran’s regime as the world’s worst state-sponsor of terrorism.

A who’s who of Olympic and elite world-class US wrestlers urged Iran’s regime not to execute Navid Afkari in 2020. Ben Askren played a key role in drawing attention to the dire plight of Afkari at the time. Iranian regime authorities incarcerated Navid’s brothers, Vahid and Habib. Both brothers also participated in the demonstrations against the regime in 2018. For their peaceful protests, Iran sentenced Vahid to 54 years and six months imprisonment and Habib to 27 years and three months, as well as 74 lashes each. Both brothers have endured torture and isolation in prison. Tehran claimed Navid killed a security guard tracking the protestors but the Islamic Republic’s opaque judicial system provided no proof that Navid committed murder.

The two-time world champion US wrestler Kyle Dake posted a video requesting Iran’s government not to execute Afkari in 2020. Dake won a bronze medal at the Olympics in Tokyo in 2021. Helen Maroulis, an American freestyle wrestler who in 2016 was the first female wrestler to win a gold medal in women’s freestyle wrestling at the Olympic Games circulated a video in support of Afkari and appealed to Iran’s regime not to kill Afkari.

Sally Roberts, a two-time world freestyle wrestling championship bronze medalist and Afghanistan combat veteran, posted a video against Navid’s execution that has been viewed nearly 5,000 times. Rogers wrote on Twitter: “Champion wrestler Navid Afkari is to be executed 4 attending a peaceful anti-government protest. Navid’s situation is dire. Athletes please support Navid & appeal to the Iranian govt to spare his life.”The three-time Division I collegiate wrestling champion Zain Retherford tweeted: “Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari has been sentenced to death on false charges & has transferred to the ‘death wing.’ Save Navid Afkari. Spare the life of the champion Greco-Roman Wrestler from execution.” Advocates for the human rights of athletes have noted over the years that silence and lack of sanctions only embolden authoritarian and totalitarian regimes that persecute their athletes.

The London-based Iran International news outlet reported in December that Iran’s Greco-Roman national team wrestler Ali Arsalan defected and will represent Serbia in wrestling.

Source » jpost

You May Be Interested