President Hassan Rowhani
Iranian President Hassan Rowhani has called for a decade-long stadium ban for women to be lifted, according to a statement issued by the president’s office Tuesday.

 

“There should be no difference between men and women in Islam and for that reason women should also be allowed to take part in sports events,” Rowhani said at a meeting with Iranian athletes at his office, according to the statement.

Women have been banned from stadiums in Iran for 39 years. The ban was imposed by the religious leadership after the 1979 revolution.

Iran’s influential clergy believes women have no place in football stadiums where men are over-excited and vulgar slogans are shouted.

Rowhani rejected these claims, saying women should not be punished for men being vulgar at sporting events.

Iran’s Vice-President Ebtekar Masoumeh has suggested that special sections for women or for families in Iran’s football arenas could help end the stadium ban.

The clergy has rejected these suggestions.

Protests against the ban have grown in recent months, most noticeably around a World Cup qualifier in September against Syria when Syrian women were allowed to attend the game in Tehran but Iranian women not – a move Iran’s parliament named “regrettable and annoying discrimination”. (NAN)