Iranian authorities have arrested eight women for attending a soccer game. The women had reportedly cloaked themselves in male garb, pretending to be men, in order to gain entry into the match. Under Iran’s oppressive Islam-inspired penal code, women are forbidden from attending athletic events with men.
“They were caught at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran as they watched Esteghlal FC versus Persepolis FC in February this year,” reports Heat Street. “However, it only recently came to light that the decision had been taken to prosecute them. Alireza Adeli, head of security for the Tehran municipality, has confirmed that other women have in the past been found dressed as men in order to attend soccer games."
According to Adeli, Iran forbids women from enjoying leisure activities, like attending a sports match, as a gesture of love aimed at “preserving their honor.”
“‘The ban is aimed at preserving their honor, because the stadium’s atmosphere, commotion, and crowds are no place for them,” said Adeli in a recent interview obtained and translated by The Middle East Research Institute (MEMRI). “Women who wish to watch the match can do so on TV, which broadcasts the games and gives everyone a way to watch them live.”
While women in Iran are allowed to drive motor vehicles, they are banned from riding bicycles, according to a recent fatwa, or Islamic decree, ordered by the Supreme Leader himself, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The twisted justification for punishing something as innocuous as a bicycle ride appears to be the same one used to force women to don the hijab; it may attract the male gaze. The country’s religious authorities are so hell-bent on lording over women’s bodies and behavior that they dispatch morality police, the Basij, with full state-sanctioned authority to crack down on everything from holding a man’s hand in public to uploading selfies online.
Rather than asking men to exercise self-control and refrain from acting on their carnal impulses, the Islamic Republic’s clerics place the burden on women, strapping the yoke of oppression around their necks and controlling their every public movement like chattel.