LONDON: Shahid Afridi has denied claims that he endorses the Zionist movement, shortly after an Israeli advocacy group posted a picture with the cricketer, alleging he supported their call to release the prisoners being held by Hamas.

In the picture posted by Friends of Israel (FOI) — a grassroots organisation that advocates for Israel — on Wednesday, Mr Afridi is seen standing with two men in Manchester, one of whom is holding a flyer with the inscription, “#BringThemHome”, and a picture of an Israeli baby allegedly kidnapped on October 7.

“Pakistani international cricketer @SAfridiOfficial stopped to offer his support for our call to release the hostages at our NWFOI vigil last Sunday in Manchester”, said the post on the group’s official X account.

They also thanked the former all-rounder for his “support”.

Cricketer rejects claim, says photo with ‘fans’ being presented as a show of support

The post resulted in a backlash, with people demanding Mr Afridi clarify his position.

In his response, the former cricketer urged people not to believe everything uploaded to the internet.

“Imagine strolling down a street in Manchester (UK), and so-called fans approach you for a selfie. You oblige, and moments later, they upload it as some form of Zionist endorsement,” he wrote on X.

“Seeing innocent lives in Palestine suffer is truly heartbreaking. Thus, any photo or association shared in Manchester does not reflect my support for any situation where human lives are at stake.”

Afridi said that he frequently takes pictures with fans worldwide, and this incident was no different.

The response resulted in a wrangling between the Israeli group and Mr Afridi, who rebutted each other’s version of events.

FOI reposted the former all-rounder’s response and reiterated that he took a picture with his own camera and agreed to pose with the group for a selfie with their leaflets.

“You spoke to us of your own free will and posed for a selfie … It’s hugely disappointing you have caved in to those who would oppose the release of innocent babies, children, women and men held hostage by the terrorists of Hamas,” the organisation wrote.

The cricketer swiftly hit back, saying that he believed the selfie was with a fan and that he did not endorse FOI’s tweet.

“As a Muslim, I pray for peace across the world,” he said, asking them to delete the tweet because it was inaccurate.

Many social media users said it was likely the cricket star had made a mistake and posed for the photo without realising the group’s association.

Author Fatima Bhutto, who had also called for Afridi to comment on the matter, criticised the Israeli group and said: “I guess they [the FOI] were keen to look like there were more than five people at their event.”

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Miles to go
Updated 14 Jul, 2024

Miles to go

Some reforms agreed with the Fund are going to seriously impact economic growth and fresh investments, at least in the short term.
Iddat ruling
14 Jul, 2024

Iddat ruling

IT was a needless, despicable spectacle which only ended up uniting both conservatives and progressives in ...
Cricket shake-up
14 Jul, 2024

Cricket shake-up

SOMEONE had to take the blame and bear the brunt of the fallout from Pakistan’s disastrous showing at the T20 ...
Injustice undone
Updated 13 Jul, 2024

Injustice undone

The SC verdict is a stunning reversal of fortunes for a party that was, both before and after general elections, being treated as a defunct entity.
Looming flour shortage
13 Jul, 2024

Looming flour shortage

FOR once, it is hard to argue against the reason that compelled flour mills to call a nationwide strike from...
Same old script
13 Jul, 2024

Same old script

WHEN it comes to the troubling issue of enforced disappearances/ missing persons — either Baloch or belonging to...