Tehran (AFP) – One of Iran’s female vice presidents launched a furious attack Saturday on “sanctimonious” groups whose threats of violent confrontation at a volleyball match ultimately triggered a clampdown on women spectators.
The remarks from Shahindokht Molaverdi, who had to backtrack on plans to ease restrictions on women at male sporting events, could inflame the government’s row with religious hardliners who oppose such reform.
Volleyball has become hugely popular in Iran as the national team has risen up the sport’s rankings and women were allowed to watch it until a ban was imposed in recent years.
The debate continued afterwards, somewhat clouding the home team’s easy 3-0 victory over its longtime political foe, but with whom a nuclear deal due by the end of this month could begin to repair relations.
Molaverdi, responsible for women and family affairs in the Islamic republic, last week said some female supporters would be allowed to watch the match. But security officials later contradicted her and said no attendance policies had been changed.