Khawaja vows to fight for those without a voice

Australian opener Usman Khawaja has vowed to fight the ICC for the right to wear shoes emblazoned with a humanitarian message, saying his heart has been left broken by the world turning its back on the growing crisis in Palestine. 

Khawaja was pictured at training on Tuesday with the words "all lives are equal" and "freedom is a human right" written across his boots.

The stand comes as Israel's military push into Palestine continues to spread, causing devastation among civilians living there and creating a humanitarian crisis.

Khawaja wanted to wear the shoes during the series-opening Test against Pakistan, starting in Perth on Thursday.

But the ICC has forbid him, with Khawaja risking a ban if he goes ahead with it.

Khawaja has decided not to wear the shoes for the time being, but he will seek approval from the ICC in a bid to be given the green light.

"The ICC have told me I can't wear my shoes on the field because they believe it's a political statement under their guidelines," Khawaja said during an emotional social media post on X.

"I don't believe in this though. It's a humanitarian appeal. I will respect their view and decision, but I will fight it and seek to get an approval.

"Freedom is a human right. 

"What I've written on my shoes isn't political. I'm not taking sides. Human life to me is equal.

"One Jewish life is equal to one Muslim life is equal to one Hindu life, and so on.

"I'm just speaking up for those who don't have a voice."

All Lives are Equal. Freedom is a Human right. I'm raising my voice for human rights. For a humanitarian appeal. If you see it any other way. That's on you...

— Usman Khawaja (@Uz_Khawaja) December 13, 2023

Khawaja, who is the first Muslim to represent Australia in international cricket, has been left deeply affected by the suffering in the Middle East.

"This is close to my heart. When I see thousands of innocent children dying without any repercussions or remorse, I imagine my two girls," Khawaja said.

"What if this was them? No one chooses where they're born. And then (when) I see the world turn their backs on them, my heart can't take it.

"Let's be honest about it. If me saying all lives are equal has resulted in people being offended - to the point where they're calling me up and telling me off - well isn't that the bigger problem?

"These people obviously don't believe in what I've written. It's not just a handful of people. You'd be shocked about how many feel this way."

Australia captain Pat Cummins supports Khawaja's stance.

"I think everyone in our team has their own individual thoughts and I love that," Cummins said.

"I think it's one of our strongest points.

"You want everyone to bring their own individual self to the team. And what was on the shoes - all lives are equal - I mean, I support that.

"I think that's not very divisive. I don't think anyone can really have too many complaints about that."

Cummins also confirmed there would be no surprises in team selection for the series opener against Pakistan.

Spinner Nathan Lyon returns from a calf injury to replace Todd Murphy in the XI, while Mitch Marsh holds the allrounder spot ahead of Cameron Green.

The three-Test series marks a new era for Pakistan, who will be led by captain Shan Masood in the longer format after Babar Azam stepped down following the recent 50-over World Cup in India.

Pakistan have never won a Test tour in Australia and will start as rank underdogs.

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