Iran Olympic protest: Woman asked to take down sign


A female Iranian activist who held a protest banner during a volleyball match at the Rio Olympics was asked to take it down and leave by security staff.

Darya Safai’s sign read: “Let Iranian women enter their stadiums.”

Women have generally been banned or restricted from attending all-male sports events in Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

The International Olympic Committee bans political statements at the games.

Although she seemed to smile throughout her protest, Ms Safai did at one point burst into tears for a short time “because it hurts”, she told the Associated Press news agency.

She said she was asked to leave, but stayed because it was her right.

“They said they didn’t want the sign in front of the cameras and they asked us to leave,” said Ms Safai, who was with friends wearing the same t-shirt as her, bearing the slogan on her banner.

“They even tried to impress me with military people. I think it is a pity they always listen to what the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran says.”

Ms Safai, who was born in Iran but is based in Belgium, held her protest at a men’s preliminary volleyball match between Egypt and Iran.

“This is not the first time I had this experience, but I won’t give up because that’s what Iranian women do, they keep fighting for their rights.

“The Olympic spirit, which is against discrimination, is what Iranian women need in their country,” she said.

“It should be the right of everyone, men and women, to attend a sports game. It is a pity that women have to travel to Brazil to watch and cheer for their national team.”

Since 2012, the Iranian government has banned women from attending volleyball tournaments as the sport became increasingly popular in Iran with both sexes.

It has arrested women for trying to enter stadiums, human rights groups say.


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