LONDON: Iranian TV turned down the volume on anti-government slogans chanted during a football match amid widespread public protests over the economy and Tehran’s foreign interventions.
Videos on social media showed thousands of fans in Tehran’s Azadi stadium chanting “death to the dictator.” But state broadcaster IRIB muted the sound and avoided images of the crowd in its broadcast of the match.
One Twitter user said: “Yesterday, when the football was being shown, the sound in the stadium was turned down to such a level that one would think they were playing in an alleyway.”
“They turned down the volume so no one could hear the slogans,” wrote another.
IRIB’s football commentators blamed “network disruption” for the low volume, without giving details.
Alireza Nader, an independent Iran scholar based in Washington, said Tehran was trying to avoid acknowledging the extent of public protests in the country.
“The regime doesn’t want to know that there is a mass opposition movement in Iran. These images prove it,” he told Arab News.
Protests have rocked major cities across Iran — including Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz and Mashhad — amid mounting anger over the country’s economy and political system.
They coincide with a new wave of US sanctions on Iran, the first phase of which was introduced on Tuesday, and involves blocks on financial transactions and imports of raw materials among other measures.
It emerged on Saturday that Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Abadi is to visit Iran next week to discuss economic affairs in the wake of the new sanctions.
Abadi, who will also visit Turkey, said earlier that Iraq would comply with the sanctions but said they were a “strategic error.”