Iran clergy angry over women fans
By Frances Harrison
BBC correspondent in Tehran
I cannot fathom a comment in reaction to this article. Incredible. Women rights - as seen from a Westerners' stand-point are apparently being trampled upon...Iran appears to be a country of contrasts, modern 'technology-wise' but seemingly medieval in human-rights' terms...
I understand that technology - most prominently the nuclear one - is the main issue that gives the Iranian authorities the feeling of a 'modern’ state. On top of the fact they have all the catches of a modern, independent and proud state, namely a modern army, large air force and top notch scientific research facilities. Iran surely has clout politically. But what about its citizen’s freedom of expression? What about Iran's human rights record?
There is at 'prima face' a cultural wall that separates the West from Iran. But is it fair to say there is incompatibility between the way these two people see life and its core values? The way they value the role of the family in society? the role of women?
Is it correct to say that there are grey areas in the way we perceive each other? Or are we being pretentious in assuming that we ought to impose on all what some might label as 'our libertarian' ways of life? Is there a common ground? Is it just a question of time (how long?) and both societies will one day reconnect - bridging their differences? Will it be a peaceful transition or a forced one? Can we destroy the suspicions that exist on both sides of the debate without building deeper rifts of hatred through wars?
Ray de Bono, for Dmax Malta.
It is hoped the presence of families will improve stadium behaviour
Iran's religious right is voicing growing opposition to a decision to let women to watch football matches for the first time since the 1979 revolution.
Four grand ayatollahs and several MPs have protested against the move, saying it violates Islamic law for a woman to look at the body of a male stranger.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that stadiums would reserve special areas for women and families.
The move was welcomed by women's rights groups which long contested the ban.
Mr Ahmadinejad, who is regarded as an ultra conservative, lifted the male-spectators-only rule on Monday.
It was a highly populist move in a country where both sexes love football and there is growing excitement about the World Cup.
Members of the clergy say it is wrong for men and women to look at each other's bodies, even if they have no intention of taking pleasure from it.
The president may find he has kicked an own goal
One MP said, if the reformists had tried this, there would have been suicide bombers protesting on the streets of Teheran.
A hardline newspaper said the atmosphere in football stadiums was now so deplorable one should weep - a reference to the bad language and rowdy behaviour of male football fans here.
It is this failure to control the male spectators that is often given as the main reason for not allowing women into football matches.
Women can watch football broadcast on Iranian television and they can attend basketball and volleyball matches even though they too involve men dressed in shorts.
Speaking on state-run television on Monday, Mr Ahmadinejad said he had ordered the head of Iran's Physical Education Committee to make sure women were adequately catered for during Iran's major sporting occasions.
"The presence of women and families in public places promotes chastity," he said.
"The best stands should be allocated to women and families in the stadiums in which national and important matches are being held."