Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja, ahead of the first Test against Pakistan in Perth, intended to show support for Palestinians in Gaza by wearing shoes with the messages “Freedom is a human right” and “All lives are equal” written on them. These messages were in the colors of the Palestinian flag and were displayed during a training session.
Cricket Australia supports Khawaja’s right to express himself but has cautioned him to abide by the International Cricket Council (ICC) rules. The ICC Code of Conduct prohibits players from displaying messages related to political, religious, or racial activities or causes without prior approval. Khawaja has voiced his opinion on the matter, stating that his message is a humanitarian appeal rather than a political statement. He intends to fight the ICC ruling, emphasizing the importance of speaking up for those who do not have a voice and considering the messages on his shoes as a non-political statement.
This stance follows a similar situation where England all-rounder Moeen Ali, in 2014, was banned by the ICC from wearing wristbands with the slogans ‘Save Gaza’ and ‘Free Palestine.’ However, Khawaja, who is the first Muslim player to represent Australia, believes his gesture does not contravene ICC regulations and is a gesture of human rights, not a protest.