Iran police disperse anti-Saudi demo at Asia Cup match
ISTANBUL - Daily News with wires
RIOT: Iranian police officers clash with protestors in a protest against Saudi leaders for cracking down on Bahraini opposition, during a match between Saudi's Al Ittihad and Iran's Persepolis. AFP photo
Iranian police dispersed hundreds of youths Tuesday at an Asian Champions League match between Iranian and Saudi sides protesting Saudi military aid to Bahrain in crushing a pro-democracy movement, Agence France-Presse reported.
At the match between Iran's Persepolis and the Saudi team Al-Ittihad, some 300-400 youths dressed in black and carrying Bahraini flags began protesting. They were first rounded up and isolated in a section of the stands before being expelled from the stadium shortly after the second half began.
The protesters, some of whom were arrested, shouted "Death to the Al-Sauds" and "Death to the Al-Khalifas" in reference to the ruling dynasties in Saudi Arabia and its tiny neighbor Bahrain.
Saudi Arabia had already unsuccessfully sought to have the match, won 3-2 by Persepolis, to be played in another country for security reasons.
Football tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia first erupted in early March, Middle East Soccer blog said. Saudi immigration authorities then demanded the Persepolis team be fingerprinted and iris scanned upon its arrival at Jeddah airport for an Asian championship match against Al Ittihad. The Persepolis team refused what is standard procedure for all visitors to the kingdom, and was held at the airport for eight hours.
Iran is a predominantly Shiite Muslim country that repeatedly expressed its solidarity with protesters in Bahrain, a Shiite majority country, as they demanded reforms from the Sunni Muslim dynasty ruling them.
In mid-March, a Saudi-led Gulf military force entered Bahrain at its goverment's request. That freed up Bahraini security forces to crush the protest movement.
Manama, for its part, accused Tehran of supporting the demonstrations.