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Women Banned From Stadium and Other Stories

September 7, 2017
Weekly Roundup
3 min read
Women Banned From Stadium and Other Stories

Dear friends 

Hello from Chicago. This is what I’m up to: “The Nazis called journalists ‘The lying press, the fake news.’” I’m the keynote speaker at a benefit luncheon for the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. It is the biggest benefit event of its kind. It’s attended by more than two-thousand people and raises five-million dollars for the Museum. As you may know I may be the first, technically, Muslim filmmaker who made a film about the Holocaust. You can watch my 1994 film The Voyage of the Saint Louis here. We’ve recently made a series on film about Iran and the Holocaust in Iran. You can see them here, including Crime and Denial, a film about Iran’s regular denial of the Holocaust. 

It’s always impressive to see a campaign for human rights tackled creatively, and that’s just what a group of Iranians did this week. Using the hashtag #reverse_cliché, they spoke out against some of the harshest (and most absurd) violations women face on a daily basis. Restrictive dress codes, unfair laws, gender stereotypes about fragile dispositions and bad driving — all were turned on their heads for a day, and men suddenly got an uncomfortable glimpse of what like is like for the majority of Iranian women. 

One of these injustices is of course the fact that women are banned from entering stadiums to watch male athletes, no matter what the sport. Tuesday’s football match between Iran and Syria showed once again the cruel treatment women face when trying to support their team — well, when trying to support their country too! Guards closing the gates in their faces told the female fans: “If you don’t like it, then get yourself a Syrian flag and go in.” After all, the women from Syria arriving to support their team had no trouble getting in. 

Speaking of unfair, a recent analysis of nepotism in Iran revealed just how far and wide the problem reaches, and it doesn’t matter whether you come from conservative stock, or more reformist families. If you’re lucky to be born into one of the families of Iran’s elite, the future is bright. Whether it’s politics or lucrative business contracts, the kids and other relatives of the country’s big players always seem to come out on top. 

Certainly an ordinary student with reasonable questions won’t be heard. Heydar Abbasi did what he could to prepare a strong speech for Ayatollah Khamenei’s visit to his seminary school. But he asked too many difficult questions, and found his speech thrown into the bin. It would appear his understanding of the values of the revolution don’t quite meet up with the Supreme Leader’s. 

So in one week, we saw the power of narrative in full swing in Iran. Whether it’s about women and their role as upright, silenced citizens, the myth of “good genes” taking people far in life, or the belief that one man has such a perfect concept of Islam and order that it can’t be challenged, Iran is certainly in thrall with some pretty dangerous lines of thought. 

As always, please let me know if you have any comments. 

Warm regards 



Iranian Women Banned from “Freedom” Stadium — Again

September 6, 2017
Sharareh Ghadiani
7 min read
Iranian Women Banned from “Freedom” Stadium — Again