TEHRAN — 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.
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 neighbour 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.
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 government’s request. That freed up Bahraini security forces to crush the protest movement.
Manama, for its part, accused Tehran of supporting the demonstrations.