Fireworks and lasers light up skies of Baghdad after Iraq beat Iran

Fireworks and lasers light up the skies of Baghdad as Iraqis pause day of deadly protests to celebrate 2-1 football win over old enemies Iran

  • In Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, activists watched the match on a giant screen after day of clashes with riot police
  • The match ended in a 2-1 victory for Iraq with supporters letting off fireworks and lasers as they celebrated  
  • The day had begun with four demonstrators being killed after they were hit by tear gas canisters in Baghdad

Jubilant Iraqis celebrated a football win against old enemies Iran today, lighting up the sky with fireworks and lasers.  

The highly-anticipated match, which ended in a 2-1 victory for Iraq, was an uplifting end to a day that began with four demonstrators being killed as they were hit by tear gas canisters in Baghdad.

Many of the expatriate Iraqi fans who streamed into the football stadium in the Jordanian capital Amman were dressed in black to honour the dead protesters or donned the medical masks demonstrators wear to protect them against tear gas.

In Baghdad’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square, the heart of a month-long grassroots movement that has claimed over 330 lives, activists watched the match on a giant screen after a day of clashes with riot police.

The match was a desperately needed morale boost for protesters who have rallied against the Baghdad government and its backers in Tehran. 

Iraqis watch the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2022 match between Iraq and Iran Iraqis watch on a giant screen in Tahrir Square in Baghdad

Anti-government protesters celebrate and wave flags in Baghdad, Iraq, after watching their nation beat rivals Iran 2-1 in a football match

Iraqi demonstrators gathered at a Al- Tahrir square watch the World Cup 2022 Qualifier match Iraq v Iran, in Baghdad, Iraq, November 14

Iraqi fans show their support for their team. Wearing the Iraqi team’s football jersey, Ahmed, a 26-year-old fan in Baghdad, said the sporting contest sent ‘an important message’

Iraqis are celebrating a 2-1 win over Iran in the much-anticipated World Cup qualifying match which took place on Thursday

The highly-anticipated match, which ended in a 2-1 victory for Iraq, was an uplifting end to a day that began with four demonstrators being killed as they were hit by tear gas canisters in Baghdad

Supporters celebrate after watching their team, Iraq, defeat Iran 2-1 in a FIFA World Cup Qualifying match on Thursday

Fans watch the spectacle play out in Baghdad as protesters pause their demonstrations to watch the football match

Anti-government protesters celebrate a soccer match win in Tahrir Square in Baghdad today. The Iraqis waved their flags proudly and cheered after the match

When Iran’s national anthem played before the match, they booed and chanted ‘Iran out, Baghdad will remain free’ to the martial pounding of drums.

And when the Iraqi team scored their first goal at the ten-minute mark, they cheered in Amman as the cracking of fireworks echoed throughout Baghdad. 

Iran and Iraq fought a 1980-1988 war and were rivals under former dictator Saddam Hussein, but the predominantly Shiite states grew close after he was ousted in the 2003 US-led invasion.

More recently, however, Iraqi demonstrators have directed their ire at Iran for backing the government they want to bring down, accusing Tehran of economic and political meddling and overreach in Iraq.

Wearing the Iraqi team’s football jersey, Ahmed, a 26-year-old fan in Baghdad, said the sporting contest sent ‘an important message’.

It was a sentiment shared by Mustafa Abdullah, aged in his 40s and one of about 70,000 Iraqis living in Jordan, who came to the match carrying his national flag.

‘Our most important objective is to send a clear message to all the Iraqi people – the Sunnis, the Shiites, the Kurds – that we reject the interference of Iran and its agents in our country,’ he said.

When Iran’s national anthem played before the match, fans booed and chanted ‘Iran out, Baghdad will remain free’ to the martial pounding of drums

Many of the expatriate Iraqi fans who streamed into the football stadium  to watch the match, on neutral ground in the Jordanian capital Amman, were dressed in black to honour the dead protesters

Iran and Iraq fought a 1980-1988 war and were rivals under former dictator Saddam Hussein, but the predominantly Shiite states grew close after he was ousted in the 2003 US-led invasion

Iraqi supporters cheer as they watch their country play against Iran today in an eagerly-anticipated World Cup qualifier

FIFA said it had assessed ‘the current security situation in Iraq’ and informed the local federation that upcoming matches ‘must be played on neutral ground’

‘Iran and its agents are the cause of the woes that swept over Iraq after the fall’ of Saddam in 2003, he told AFP.

‘We came not only to support our team against Iran in the stadium but also to support our fellow demonstrators in their biggest contest – their revolt against Iran and injustice in Iraq.’ 

The match between the two football-mad nations was to have been played in the southern port city of Basra.

But FIFA said it had assessed ‘the current security situation in Iraq’ and informed the local federation that upcoming matches ‘must be played on neutral ground’.

Jordanian security forces were deployed heavily around the stadium during the match, which coincided with a separate game pitting Jordan against Australia.

Jordanian security forces were deployed heavily around the stadium during the match, which coincided with a separate game pitting Jordan against Australia

Originally, the match between the two football-mad nations was to have been played in the southern port city of Basra

Amjad Fahed, an Iraqi in his fifties who was watching the game, said he wanted Iraqis to ‘crush Iran on the football field’, as well as back home

Back in Baghdad, as the crowd celebrated, even Iranian-manufactured Saipa vehicles mostly used as taxis zipped around Tahrir flying Iraqi flags

Recently, Iraqi demonstrators have directed their ire at Iran for backing the government they want to bring down, accusing Tehran of economic and political meddling and overreach in Iraq

After the game, Arkan Najib, a famous veteran of Iraqi football, said the win had sent ‘a big message to the families of the martyrs and the heroes in Tahrir Square

Hours before the match began, thousands of Iraqis streamed into the Amman football stadium, the country’s largest, benefiting from free entrance offered to them by their country’s football association.

They brandished Iraqi flags but were barred from carrying posters or protest signs into the arena.

‘We came to fullfil our duties by, first, supporting our team, and second, expressing support to our brothers who rose up against corruption and injustice in Iraq,’ said Nawras al-Mashhadani, an Iraqi living in Amman.

She said the match offered a temporary respite from the ‘scenes of bloodshed and fire’ that usually come out of her home country.

Amjad Fahed, an Iraqi in his fifties, said he wanted Iraqis to ‘crush Iran on the football field’, as well as back home.

After the game, Arkan Najib, a famous veteran of Iraqi football, said the win had sent ‘a big message to the families of the martyrs and the heroes in Tahrir Square’.

Back in Baghdad, as the crowd celebrated, even Iranian-manufactured Saipa vehicles mostly as taxis in Iraq zipped around Tahrir flying Iraqi flags, the passengers inside chanting in support of Iraq’s national team.

‘They made their people and their audience happy,’ said Sara, 25, about the Iraqi squad.

‘The team proves that we have heroes everywhere, not just in Tahrir square.’

Source: Read Full Article