World Cup: Egypt’s Mohamed Salah accepts honorary Chechnya citizenship from ‘purge the gays’ leader Ramzan Kadyrov
Footballer Mohamed Salah is facing anger after he accepted a gift of honorary Chechen citizenship from anti-gay leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
Human rights monitors reported last year that authorities in Chechnya – an autonomous region of Russia – were carrying out a homophobic purge, which the Kremlin failed to intervene to prevent.
Gay people in the region allegedly faced arrest, torture and execution – as the Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov publicly insisted that homosexuals are “not people” and should be removed to “purify” the blood of the region.
LGBT fans reacted with horror today as Egyptian footballer Mohamed Salah accepted the gift of honorary citizenship of Chechnya presented by Kadyrov during the World Cup.
Salah had already faced criticism for posing for a selfie with Kadyrov earlier in the tournament at the Egyptian team’s base in Chechen capital Grozny.
But the sportsman, who plays for English Premier League club Liverpool, did not seem to have any reservations about posing with the tyrant.
Kadyrov pinned a Chechen brooch onto the player’s shirt, presenting him with a ceremonial plate and a shirt of Chechen football team FC Akhmat Grozny.
The Chechen leader wasted no time in taking to social media to brag about his friendship with Salah.
He wrote: “Mohamed Salah is an honorary citizen of the Chechen Republic. Yes, that’s right! Tonight I signed a decree conferring this high award on the great footballer and member of the Egypt and Liverpool teams,”
The leader himself said last year that Chechnya “doesn’t have any gays,” adding that “if there are any, take them to Canada.”
He continued: “Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.
“They are devils. They are for sale. They are not people.”
Human Rights Watch previously said that Kadyrov, who has ruled over Chechnya since 2007, was using the World Cup “as a propaganda exercise.”
Rachel Denber said: “This is Kadyrov trying to capitalise on Chechnya being a team base to boost his own profile… it was 100 percent predictable,
“He revels in the spotlight. He also has a ruthless grip on Chechnya.
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“He has sought to obliterate any kind of political advocacy or human rights work.”
Eihab Leheita, executive director for Egypt’s squad at the tournament, said that he had “no regrets whatsoever” about choosing the Chechen city of Grozny for the team’s base.
Initial reports of gay men being detained in the region, which is an autonomous part of Russia, were revealed by the newspaper Novaya Gazeta last year.
Journalists who exposed the purge have been forced into hiding as they have received numerous threats from the largest mosque in the region, which has declared jihad against the newspaper.
Following the initial exposure, it was revealed that authorities were forcing gay men into camps, sparking an outcry from LGBT and human rights activists across the world.
A number of heartbreaking stories from the region have been shared, including stories of parents of gay people who were issued a warning to murder their children before police killed them in torture camps.