[Marxism] Iran pres. reverses ban on women attending soccer games

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Wed Apr 26 03:00:45 MDT 2006

Interesting interview, and I am glad Mahmood Ketabchi submitted it.  I
suspect the comment about a "cat and mouse" game with the regime
increasing restrictions in clothing, while cutting them down in other
instances.  Iran is a very complex place and not just an
extremist-sharia heaven on earth or hell on earth.  More women graduate
from colleges than men.  There is access to contraceptives. Women serve
in the military. Stoning for adultery was abolished (of course, this is
hardly high praise, especially with the facts about Pakistan which have
been exposed, showing how the ban on adultery is used to cover rape and
forced prostitution).
But I notice that the interviewee clearly suggests that the retreat by
Ahmadenijad is purely from international feminist pressure, including
the actions of exiles.  But I suspect that Ahmadenijad primarily
responds to internal concerns, and the firmness of his statements
reflects a response to internal pressures.  In addition to the pressure
for more women's rights within Iran, which I think is considerable,
there is the need for broader unity in the face of a threatened US
attack, which Ahmadenijad MAY be politically astute enough to respond
to. He presents the participation of women in a nationalist way, it
seems to me.
I have included his whole submission for readers who have  problems
reading his post because of format..
Fred Fe
RFE/RL: You and many other women in Iran have been fighting for the
right to enter stadiums and attend football matches. Your leg was
actually broken last year when you and a group of activists tried to
push your way into Tehran stadium. How do you feel today, now that
President Ahmadinejad has ordered that women be allowed into stadiums? 
Mahboubeh Abbass-Gholizadeh: Our reaction -- the reaction of many of
those who have been involved in this campaign, and we've been talking
about it -- is first of all [happiness]. We are all happy that the
women's movement could successfully reach [at least] one of its least
important demands. We consider this a victory for the women's movement.
But this is happening at a time when there are many pressures with
regard to [restrictions on] women's clothing. This achievement is for us
a result of the efforts of our women and girls, especially since last
year. It was necessary, but [it is] not enough.
RFE/RL: What are your other demands?
Abbass-Gholizadeh: Women should have access to all public places, and
their rights should be [defended]. Under the current conditions -- in
which a woman who wants to travel needs her husband's permission, in
which academic places, universities, scientific locations, and
recreational places like coffee shops are segregated -- women or young
girls cannot easily gain access to public places. And this segregation
shows that we cannot say that women and men use public places equally.
Some places in Iran are generally designated "For Men Only." On the
other hand, the emphasis that exists on women's clothing -- especially
in recent days -- it all indicates cat-and-mouse policies with regard to
women's demands. And we have many other demands -- from the right to
[less strict limits on] clothing to the right of access to all public
RFE/RL: Does this small victory make you and other activists more
determined and more active in seeking your demands and achieving equal
Abbass-Gholizadeh: This is an achievement by the women's movement -- and
not because the president is a democrat and, for example, gives
importance to women's rights. The activities of women have made this
possible. Our argument is not only limited to women entering stadiums,
but we believe that women have the right to access public places that
under the Islamic republic have become places solely for men. These are
only our first steps. Our strategy is to achieve equal rights for all
Iranian women.
RFE/RL: Do you know when President Ahmadinejad's order will be applied
and women will be allowed to attend sports events?
Abbass-Gholizadeh: I think it will be applied during the first game that
comes after [the issuing of] this order.
RFE/RL: And will you attend it, you and other activists?
Abbass-Gholizadeh: Definitely, all of us are planning to go and watch
the game and demonstrate [our victory]. Before Mr. President issued this
order, we were planning on creating some solidarity among Iranian women
who live abroad -- especially because of the [FIFA] World Cup that will
be held in Germany [in June-July]. We were busy working on a campaign so
that Iranian women outside the country would represent women who are
inside Iran and attend football matches in stadiums and chant slogans
and have placards denouncing the violation of Iranian women's right to
attend stadiums. But it appears that -- before people outside Iran could
hear about the campaign -- the president was informed and issued this


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