Iran: Tehran, volleyball sparks protest against ayatollahs

The national women’s team participates for the first time in the World Federation Cup and, surprisingly, does well. State television decides to broadcast the games live, but the religious protest against “immorality” of athletes (opponents) kits and clothes of female fans. And manufacturers respond in kind.Tehran (Agencies) – While the Iranian National men’s volleyball surprisingly defeats Cuba, the women’s team has sparked a furious debate in the country between conservatives supported by the ayatollahs and moderates supported by the general public. The decision to broadcast World Cup matches live for the first time has sparked a series of protests by religious leaders.

The weekly ultraconservative Ya Lessarat yesterday published an editorial attacking the broadcaster IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting), guilty of scandalous conduct: “The rules are clear. Television must delete or crop out images of women clad in un-Islamic clothes in movies or news reports. This conduct must stop as soon as possible. ” Ali Motahari, Teheran’s Conservative MP, has joined the chorus calling for a parliamentary investigation on the incident.

The question, however, is complex. On the one hand there is the fact that the competition is being held in Sardinia in summer, and so the female audience is dressed in a light summer clothes and on the other the fact that Tehran can not demand foreign nationals dress according to the Koran. Finally, it is unthinkable that the broadcaster can air a game without showing the opposing team. The victories won by the Iranians – dressed according to Islamic precepts (see photo) – against Serbia and Italy did the rest: Iranians began to follow their team with enthusiasm.

Ezzatollah Zarghami, head of IRIB, responded today to criticism: “In (live) situations, it is out of our hands. The only solution would be not to broadcast the game at all. If we do that, the viewership will turn to satellite (dishes).” In addition, this weekend there is the decisive game against Cuba, “If the ayatollahs want – said Zarghami – I can try to negotiate with our Cuban cultural counterparts to dress the spectators in tracksuits to resolve this problem.”

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