Political football: Real Madrid welcome of Palestinian Tamimi angers Israelis

October 1 – In what will be viewed in Israel as a major slight and by Palestinians as an endorsement of their cause, Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, whose arrest last year drew international condemnation, has been honoured by Real Madrid.

The 17-year-old was arrested in December 2017 and imprisoned for eight months after she slapped two Israeli soldiers outside her house in the village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank.

Her mother filmed the incident and posted it on Facebook, where it went viral and, for many, turned Tamimi into a symbol of the Palestinian struggle.

According to top Spanish sports daily Marca, just before Real Madrid’s derby with rivals Atletico at the weekend, Tamimi was welcomed by Emilio Butragueno, the club’s former striker and now director of institutional relations.

She was given a Real team shirt with her name and number printed on the back .

Tamimi has also been speaking at events in Spain to raise awareness of the plight of the Palestinians but Israeli officials took to Twitter to criticize Real Madrid. Israel’s Ambassador to Spain Daniel Kutner accused the club of encouraging “aggression” while Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon blasted the club.

“The prestigious soccer club of Real Madrid embraces a terrorist inciting to hatred and violence. Shameful,” he tweeted. “What does this have to do with the values of soccer?”

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