Real Madrid Soccer Club Honors Palestinian Teen, Ahed Tamimi

Some see Tamimi as a terrorist and others as a hero.

Real Madrid Soccer Club Honors Palestinian Teen Ahed Tamimi
Aitor Alcalde / Getty Images

Some see Tamimi as a terrorist and others as a hero.

In December, 17-year-old Palestinian Ahed Tamimi slapped an Israeli soldier, landing her and her mother in prison for eight months. The two were attending a protest against the occupation of her village in the West Bank. The video of Ahed and her mother pushing and slapping the soldier while arguing with him went viral on Facebook and then on social media, and many proclaimed her a hero in its wake.

It also resulted in the military court sentencing them both to an eight-month prison term. Marca reports that hours before Madrid’s soccer derby against Atelico on Friday, Spanish retired soccer player Emilio Butragueno welcomed her to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and gave her a jersey with her name and the number nine on the back. She was in Spain with her parents to participate in some political and social events.

Israeli media network Arutz Sheva described Tamimi as a “teen terrorist,” citing her stated goal to “eliminate Israel,” and Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted his opposition to the recognition.

“The prestigious soccer club of Real Madrid embraces a terrorist inciting to hatred and violence. Shameful,” he said. This was later followed by this tweet.

“Ahed Tamimi is promoting violence against Israeli citizens. @realmadrid-receiving a terrorist that incites hatred and violence is something that has nothing to do with universal football values.”

France 24 interviewed Ahed Tamimi not long ago while she was in France to attend a left-wing festival called Fête de l’Humanité near Paris. She was a guest of honor at the event. During the interview, Tamimi was asked about her claim that she wants a peaceful resistance, although she slapped a soldier. She responded that the felt her treatment of the soldier was “natural” given that “these soldiers shot children. And these children are my relatives, and the soldier I slapped had shot my cousin, and he had nearly died.”

Tamimi added that her goal is to study international law and become an attorney who defends Palestinians. She became a Palestinian resister at the age of 5 and says she sees the very existence of any Palestinian living in occupied territory as a form of resistance. She is fighting, she says, the occupation that obstructs Palestinian education by shutting down schools and the roads that lead to them and by trying to erase Palestine from textbooks. Tamimi said she is not affiliated with any particular political party and that she is “just a Palestinian girl.”