Iranian fan allowed to hold her sign at volleyball venue
Aug 16 2016
Iran national volleyball team, which has already booked a place at the quarterfinal round of the Rio Olympic Games, will face Russian Federation at its last preliminary round match at 10:30 p.m. Tehran time (1830 GMT) on Monday.
Shortly after she began waving her banner, the International Olympic Committee sent security guards to ask her to take down the sign and leave the stadium.
Iran's volleyball team, in its first Olympics, swept Egypt in the match 3-0 for its second victory in Rio.
Safai said she was told that "they didn't want the sign in front of the cameras" and was pressured to leave but did not do so. "They even tried to impress me with military people".
The activist who fights for gender equality in Iran said that this is not the first time she was asked to leave a place after showing her banner in order to raise awareness of the issue women's rights in Iran. What I am fighting for is for the right for Iranian women to be at matches. She is founder and director of "Let Iranian Women Enter Their Stadiums!".
Iranians live in a society that leaves them little space and where bans are common. "It should be the right of everyone, men and women, to attend a sports game", she told reporters. The ban extends to most male-only sporting events, where officials "enforce strict interpretations of Islamic norms", per McCauley.
The ban used to be only on soccer matches, but as volleyball has gained in popularity, Iranian authorities extended the ban to cover that sport, too.
As part of its campaign "My Stealthy Liberty", Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist living in NY, has launched an initiative on 22 July, encouraging men to share via the hashtag #meninhijab photos on which they appear veiled in order to combat the obligation for women to wear the veil in Iran. "It is a pity that women have to travel to Brazil to watch and cheer for their national team".
"For the next game on Monday we also have tickets and we are going to do the same", Safai said. She said would attempt to bring her cause to the Maracanazinho arena again during the Summer Games.
"This is not a political statement", said Okimura. "This is not a political issue", Okimura said. "This, to me, is not about politics. Why now are we not sending that same consistent message?"
After the incident in Rio, Safai received an outpouring of support online, according to The Independent.