Usman Khawaja wore a black armband in the first Test against Pakistan. Khawaja did not say why the armband, but it was assumed that he was wearing it to protest the indiscriminate killing of children and innocent people in Gaza, Palestine. But he did not take ICC’s permission for that. ICC accused Khawaja of breaking the ‘jersey, dress and equipment’ rules.
Finally, Khawaja opened up about this. He said that he entered the field wearing a black armband to express ‘personal grief’ and explained this to the ICC earlier.
Khawaja said in this context on Friday, ‘I am not wearing that armband anymore. I told the ICC it was a personal condolence. The message written on my shoes was clear. But I did not play in those shoes.’
Earlier, Khawaja had decided to wear shoes with a special message in the Test match against Pakistan to protest against the indiscriminate killing of innocent children in Palestine. According to the Australian batsman’s plan, the shoes will feature the words ‘All lives are equal’ and ‘Freedom is the right of all’ in the colors of the Palestinian flag (red, green and black). But the ICC called it a ‘political statement’ and directed Khawaja not to enter the field wearing the shoes.
Khawaja accepted that instruction. But in the Perth Test he entered the field wearing a black armband. The ICC charged him for that, which is punishable by a first offense – reprimand.
However, the matter of rebuke for wearing the black armband does not enter Khazar’s mind, ‘I have spoken to Nick (Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley) and Cricket Australia. On the second day (of the Perth Test), the ICC asked why I wore the black armband. As I said, it is due to personal grief. I never said it (the black armband) was for another purpose. The shoe thing was different, I can say that. But the matter of armbands (reprimands for reasons) does not enter the mind.’
Earlier, Khawaja said, “I have followed all the rules. There have been many precedents in the past as well—someone put stickers on bats, some wrote names on shoes. Many such actions were done without the permission of the ICC. But none of them were reprimanded.’
After that Khawaja claimed to ICC, ‘I respect ICC and all their rules. I, for my part, demand that the rules be made equal and fair to all and that consistency be maintained. I think, continuity has not been maintained in these cases.’
Khawaja then spoke about the phrase written on the shoe, ‘I have no agenda. I only talked about the things that are moving my emotions. Trying to do everything in the most respectful way possible. I thought for a while before writing on shoes. While doing that, I have tried not to leave out any of the different sections of a population, religious belief or community. I spoke of humanity. I wanted the matter (killings in Palestine) to be discussed more because of my speaking.’
Khawaja said in a video message before the Perth Test how the pictures and videos of innocent children killed in Palestine moved him. He said again today, ‘I was telling Nick (Hockley) this morning, when I go to Instagram, I see innocent children dying. Innocent children are being killed. The video of their death comes before me. They make me cry. Instead of those children, the image of my little girls floats in my head. It is so difficult to think about these things! Besides, I have no hidden agenda.’
Khawaja said, “I just feel that it is my duty to speak about this issue. In Australia we can (freely) walk outside. I don’t have to worry about my kids. I want the same for the rest of the world.’
Khawaja is not barred from playing in the second Test of the series against Pakistan, which starts on Boxing Day on December 26.