Features

Judo + Seeking Asylum + Women Football Fans + ...

September 5, 2019
Maziar Bahari
2 min read
a 29-year-old woman who was arrested for trying to enter Azadi Stadium to watch her football team play was so distressed by the way she was treated by authorities that she set herself on fire
a 29-year-old woman who was arrested for trying to enter Azadi Stadium to watch her football team play was so distressed by the way she was treated by authorities that she set herself on fire
Putting himself at personal risk, a yoga teacher in Tehran holds classes for both women and men
Putting himself at personal risk, a yoga teacher in Tehran holds classes for both women and men

The biggest political upheavals in Iran are often directly linked to sport. The news that Iranian judo champion Saeid Mollaei has sought asylum in Germany after being forced to avoid facing an Israeli competitor is a good example. The Islamic Republic doesn’t recognize Israel so officials regard competing against Israeli athletes as a way of acknowledging the Jewish state. It’s as if by ignoring Israel and Israelis, Iran’s leaders can somehow make them disappear. This is just one more example of the political and ideological masturbation that has kept Iranian officials satisfied for the last 40 years while making Iran a pariah state and preventing Iranians from fulfilling their potential. 

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his cohorts have the same approach when it comes to Iran’s obligations to the international football federation, FIFA, and the principle that all fans, regardless of gender, are entitled to watch matches in stadiums. Iran’s Football Federation has made some poor attempts to make it look as if women are free to enter stadiums, but it hasn't fooled anyone. All of this would be slightly funny if these ridiculous rules weren’t also extremely stifling and restrictive — and if the punishment handed down to people who violate them wasn’t so cruel. One of the most shocking stories we’ve heard over the last few days is that a 29-year-old woman who was arrested for trying to enter Azadi Stadium to watch her football team play was so distressed by the way she was treated by both prison and judicial authorities that she set herself on fire outside a Tehran courthouse. It is appalling and terrifying that the trampling of people’s rights has come to this.

It’s important to remember that in the midst of all this absurdity, many Iranians are simply trying to live normal lives, and this is a kind of rebellion and act of protest too, however slight. It’s not just the protesters or campaigners who are doing this. It’s the yoga instructor who puts himself at risk by teaching mixed gender classes, or the bodyguard who works long hours even though his job officially doesn’t exist or might even be classified as illegal. Around the country, people are showing their resilience and resistance in their day-to-day life, an inspiring spirit that is as important to document as the many negative aspects of life in Iran today. 

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Features

Banned from Entering Stadium, Young Woman Sets Herself on Fire

September 4, 2019
IranWire
3 min read
Banned from Entering Stadium, Young Woman Sets Herself on Fire