Australian cricketer Khawaja wears black armband in Gaza protest

Australian cricketer Khawaja wears black armband in Gaza protest
Cricket star Usman Khawaja makes an active stand against the war on Gaza- joining various famed public figures to call for Gaza ceasefire
2 min read
14 December, 2023
Usman Khawaja (L) at the first Test cricket match between Australia and Pakistan at Optus Stadium in Perth [Getty]

Australia's Usman Khawaja staged a muted protest against the war in Gaza on Thursday, wearing a black armband during the first Test against Pakistan and taping up messages on his shoes.

The opening batsman had wanted to wear shoes emblazoned with the hand-written slogans "Freedom is a human right" and "All lives are equal" during the match at Perth.

But Pakistan-born Khawaja, who is Muslim, was told that it flouted International Cricket Council rules on messages that relate to politics, religion or race.

With Cricket Australia saying it expected the players to uphold the rules, Khawaja covered over the slogans with semi-transparent tape leaving the words- in the colour of the Palestinian flag- visible only in close-up.

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Cricket Australia said Khawaja was wearing the armband as a show of solidarity.

His opening partner David Warner, who slammed 164, said the team backed what he was doing.

"He's entitled to his opinion and we fully support that," he said.

"He's a really good mate of mine and I know this is something really close to his heart. All we can do is support Uzzie and his views on that."

The war, now in its third month, began after the October 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas that Israeli officials say killed 1,200 people.

More than 18,700 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

In a video Khawaja recently shared on Instagram, he asked: "Do people not care about innocent humans being killed?"

Khawaja has vowed to fight the ban on his footwear, calling it "a humanitarian appeal".

He doubled down on his stance just before going in to bat in the first Test on Thursday.

"I just think that so much has happened in the past that sets a precedent," Khawaja told Fox Cricket.

"Other guys that have religious things on their equipment, under the ICC guidelines that's not technically allowed, but the ICC never says anything on that," he added.

Australian captain Pat Cummins said he was "really proud" of his teammate and of other squad members who had spoken up for what they believe in.