Activists raise anger over Iran’s decision to forbid women from watching a volleyball game against the US despite earlier signs from Iranian officials that they would be allowed to do so, the BBC has reported.
A number of women were expected to attend Friday’s game following reports from Iran’s sporting federation that they would be permitted entrance.
Iran's vice president for women and family affairs, Shahindokht Molaverdi told reporters last week that a small number of women, mainly players’ relatives, would be allowed to attend the volleyball game.
However even female journalists were prevented from entering the game, confirming the fears of activists.
The decision was protested on social media with the hashtag #LetWomenGoToStadium.
Following the indications that Iran would allow women to watch the volleyball game, a religious group in Iran Ansar-e Hezbollah compared women spectators to prostitutes and called on the government to prevent them from entering the stadium.
"We are taking a stand against legalizing the presence of prostitutes… in stadiums," the group said in a flyer distributed in Tehran. "This Friday there will be blood," it added.
Senior Islamic clerics and officials including Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Alavi Gorgani criticized the more moderate approach of Iran’s government, saying "We didn't rise up in an Islamic Revolution for the right of women to enter sports stadiums”.
Tensions haves been increasing in Iran over other incidents involving the abuse of women.
In earlier May, an Iranian Kurdish young woman named Frinaz Khosrawani died after jumping out a fourth floor window of a hotel in an attempt to escape two men who were allegedly attempting to rape her.
There were clashes between protesters and Iranian riot police in the ethnically Kurdish city of Mahabad following the Farinaz Khosrawani incident.
The protesters torched the Tara hotel in which Khosrawani used to work.
More than 25 people were injured in the clashes and the demonstrations spread to nearby cities.