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New Deprivations for Iranian Women: Order to Ban Women From Watching Automobile Races!

By Fereydoon Sheibani, Rooz Online

A day after FIFA President Sepp Blatter called on Iranian officials to lift the ban on Iranian women's participation in sporting events, Iran's ministry of sports issued a directive on orders from the security bureau of the intelligence ministry which bans Iranian women from viewing auto-racing events at Tehran's Azadi stadium.

Laleh Seddigh

Laleh Seddigh, recognized as the best female racer in Iran, at Tehran's Azadi stadium

Blatter was in Tehran last week for a two-day visit where he requested Iranian officials such as President Hassan Rouhani, Majlis head Ali Larijani and Vice-president Ms. Ebtekar to allow women to participate in sporting events. But a day later, during an auto race at Tehran's Azadi stadium, women were prevented from going into the stadium to see the event because of a specific order from the ministry of intelligence's security office at the ministry of sports.

The following day, Fars news agency announced on behalf of Fariba Javanmardi, the deputy chairman of Iran's automobile racing federation that she would follow up with the issue. She expressed hope that by the end of the year this issue would be resolved and added that cultural work had to be done on this issue.

In defense of banning women from participating in soccer events, Iranian authorities have said that the language that men visitors at such stadium events use language that is inappropriate for women. No such instances have been reported in auto races.

Ms Javanmardi also told Fars, "Unfortunately, I do not know the reason for the ban. Women have in the past participated s visitors at such events at Azadi stadium, but they were prevented from going there yesterday." She added that she had managed to participate in the event with "great difficulty."

She cited "high cost" to be the reason for banning women from participating in such events. She added that in the first auto races after the suspension, women drivers participated with men. But because of high costs of this sport, women have not continued participating in them. She promised that women would "most certainly" compete in future auto racing events.

During former president Ahmadinejad's term, the most expensive film about automobile racing in Iran, which was about a woman driver named Leyla Sedigh, managed to get a production permit from the ministry of culture. But the shooting of the film was abandoned after incurring heavy costs and some government funding. There were also rumors at the time that her victory was attributed to the illegal engine size of the car she raced in.

Photos: Slalom Auto Racing Competitions in Tabriz (June 2012)

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