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A professional soccer player in the top German league Bundesliga has been released from his team after making a social media post in support of Gaza and Palestinians.
Netherlands-born forward Anwar El Ghazi was suspended by team FSV Mainz 05 after writing a social media post that read, "This is not war. When one side cuts off water, food and electricity on another then it's not war. When one side has nuclear weapons then it's not war."
"From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," the post later concluded.
The phrase is commonly known to mean to push the Israelis from the Jordan River all the way into the Mediterranean Sea and turn the land over to the Palestinians. However, it is sometimes aregued that the phrase simply means that Palestinians wish to be free and equal citizens.
The Mainz team said that the player "took a position on the conflict in the Middle East in a manner that wasn't tolerable for the club."
It was noted by the BBC that Mainz's founder and first chairman was Eugen Salomon, a Jewish man who had the team taken from him by the Nazis in 1933 before dying in the Holocaust in 1942.
The soccer club later lifted El Ghazi's suspension on October 30, 2023, and said that given his "commitment to upholding the club's values and the remorse shown, and in keeping with the club's culture of using mistakes as an opportunity to learn, Anwar El Ghazi will return to training and matchday-related activities with FSV Mainz 05 soon."
The club noted that El Ghazi "distanced himself from his post on his Instagram account"; however the player said that the club released that statement without his permission.
"I do not regret or have any remorse for my position,” El Ghazi wrote on November 1, 2023, according to Breitbart. "I do not distance myself from what I said and I stand, today and always until my last breath, for humanity and the oppressed."
His social media post also that stated he is against "occupation," "apartheid," and much more.
Two days after the post, Mainz ended the player's contract with "immediate effect" on November 3, 2023. "The club is taking this measure in response to the player's statements and posts on social media," the club said.
The day of his release, El Ghazi once again took to his X account to say, "Stand for what is right, even if it means standing alone."
"The loss of my livelihood is nothing when compared to the hell being unleashed on the innocent and vulnerable in Gaza #stopthekilling," he added.
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