Established in 1994, Ceramic Solutions has excelled at the supply and installation of swimming pool tiles and equipment for the pool and leisure industry, with a focus on the needs of end-users. …read more
Women’s right to attend sports events at centre of Iran’s culture wars
James M. Dorsey reports that a British-Iranian woman imprisoned In Tehran for attempting to watch a men’s volleyball match is at the centre of Iran’s cultural wars that constitute the backdrop to efforts to resolve problems with Iran’s nuclear program and a struggle between reformists and conservatives in advance of parliamentary elections 18 months from now.
The arrest In June of 25-year old Ghoncheh Ghavami together with more than a dozen other women as they tried to enter a stadium where the Iranian national men’s team was playing Italy was first disclosed earlier this month by The Guardian.
Ghavami’s attempt to enter Tehran’s Azadi (meaning 'Freedom' in Farsi) Stadium was part of a protest staged by dozens of women against the fact that Brazilian women had earlier been allowed to attend a volleyball match between their country’s national team and Iran.
Ironically, volleyball, the setting for the latest phase in the battle for Iranian women’s sporting rights, is also a 21st century’s US-Iranian equivalent of Chinese-American table tennis diplomacy in the 1970s that opened the door to the establishment of diplomatic relations.
As Iran’s national team played a series of friendlies in the United States, US State Department Communications Adviser on Iran Greg Sullivan told Al-Monitor “we see (volleyball) as an incredible opportunity to promote goodwill and understanding between the Iranian and American people.”
In contrast to Iran, Iranian-American women had no problem attending the friendlies.
The volleyball protest followed widespread rejection by coffee shop owners and female football fans in Iran of restrictions on women watching publicly screened matches during the recent FIFA World Cup in Brazil. They openly flaunted with no government response orders by authorities to keep television sets off during World Cup matches. The orders were intended to prevent men and women from publicly watching matches together.
Football features also in street art battles that are a key venue in Iran’s culture wars. A recent mural on one of Tehran’s main thoroughfares pictured a woman wearing a national soccer team jersey as she washed dishes at home. The mural went viral on social media. In the mural, the woman raises a cup of yellowish dishwash solution as if it were the World Cup trophy in what was seen as a rejection of conservative notions that a woman’s place is at home.
At stake in the battle is however far more than just women’s sports rights. Those rights are part of a larger struggle for Iran’s future as Iranian negotiators meet in New York this month with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to reach agreement on resolving the Iranian nuclear problem before a 24th November deadline. Iranian conservatives fear that a successful negotiation would strengthen the hand of supporters of reformist President Hassan Rohani in parliamentary elections scheduled for the spring of 2016.
With popular support for the nuclear talks, conservatives hope to thwart Rouhani by appealing to traditional values in their effort to undercut his efforts to reduce repression and allow for greater freedom of expression and access to information, promote gender equality, and ease cultural and educational restrictions.
Rouhani like other members of his Cabinet regularly posts messages on Facebook and Twitter despite the fact that access to social media sites is frequently blocked in Iran. The president has also argued publicly that freedom is a precondition for creativity and has contradicted conservative efforts to curb fun.
The culture wars last month kicked into high gear when parliament impeached Rouhani’s minister of science, research and technology, Reza Faraji-Dana, on charges that he had reinstated academics and students who had been barred by the president’s hard line predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Parliament is likely to target other members of Rouhani’s Cabinet.
Iranian spiritual guide Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has so far allowed Mr. Rouhani to move forward with the nuclear talks and efforts to improve Iran’s sanctions-hit economy but has sided publicly with conservative moves to stymie his liberalization moves.
In one of the latest salvos in the culture wars, Iran’s state-owned media and conservative websites reported earlier this month that Shahla Sherkat, the editor of a newly launched women’s magazine, Zanan-e Emruz (Today’s Women), would be charged with promoting feminism after publishing a story on Iran’s restrictive sports stadium law and an interview with a human rights activist opposed to the death penalty.
One conservative website criticised the government’s licensing of Zanan-e-Emruz on the grounds that “feminist views are in clear opposition to the Quran.”
Sherkat told AFP that she had been accused by Iran’s media watchdog of publishing pictures of women that portrayed them as objects.
An acclaimed women’s magazine that was edited by Sherkat for some 16 years was closed down in the Ahmadinejad era after it ran a cover story headlined: ‘Freedom: Where Can We Scream?’
The cover picture showed two women carrying a sign saying “Tehran Stadium Has a Capacity of 100,000 people.”
The word people was crossed out so that the sign read: “Tehran Stadium Has a Capacity of 100,000 men.”
Image of Iranian women volleyball fans courtesy of International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies as Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, co-director of the Institute of Fan Culture of the University of Würzburg and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, and a forthcoming book with the same title.
19th July 2014 - FOOTBALL AN EMERGING BATTLEGROUND IN CONTROLLING IRAQ
Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?
The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.
However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.
Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.
Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.
Click here to subscribe.
The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.
Hydrocare Pool Services Pty Ltd offer 25 years of experience in aquatic industry features, products and water treatment. Hydrocare Pools has undertaken water treatment for aquatic centres and…read more
Talk To Us For Independent Advice & Specialised Services We're business people, not sales reps IP HUB is one of Australia’s leading advisors on telecoms for both small businesses and…read more
Technogym is the leading company in the Wellness and Fitness field all over the world. With 2,200 employees, 14 branches in Europe, U.S., South America, Asia and Australia, Technogym exports its…read more
Lander & Rogers' Sports Business Group is the leading sports law practice in Australia, representing over 150 national and international sporting bodies. Our clients include international…read more
Principal Consultant Simon Weatherill has spent the last 20 years developing the world renowned Melbourne Sports Hub, as former Chief Executive Officer of the State Sports Centres Trust…read more
Life Fitness Cardio Life Fitness Strength Hammer Strength Group Cycling Rowers Certified Refurbished Freeweights Benches & Racks Flooring Life Fitness is the global leader in the fitness…read more
Recreation Management Software for managing all your program registrations, facility bookings, membership pass sales and Point of Sale; including detailed reporting, automated customer communication…read more
get listed with our suppliers directory
Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!