Iranian Police Clampdown On Viewing Centres

Ahmadinejad, Iranian president.

Ahmadinejad, Iranian president.

Tehran police have sealed a multi-screen cinema in the capital that defied a police ban on selling women tickets for live public screenings of Euro 2012 football games, the ISNA news agency reported.

Ahmadinejad, Iranian president.

ISNA cited Tehran police as saying that the “Zendegi cinema complex has been sealed by police after it sold tickets to women since cinemas are only authorised to sell tickets for such screenings to men.”

Contacted by AFP, the cinema complex confirmed the closure, without going into further detail.

The closure came after Bahman Kargar, deputy police commander in charge of social affairs, said women in Iran were being banned from watching live Euro 2012 screenings because of an “inappropriate” environment where men may become rowdy.

“Men, while watching football, get excited and sometimes utter vulgar curses or tell dirty jokes,” he said on Sunday. “It is not within the dignity of women to watch football with men. Women should thank the police” for the ban.

The Euro 2012 games in Poland and Ukraine are being aired on state television in football-mad Iran.

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They are also being shown in cinemas, continuing a practice that became popular for couples and families during the 2010 World Cup and the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.

Many among Iran’s hardline authorities and clerics favour segregation of the sexes and find the mingling of unrelated men and women to be corrupting.

Women have to use women-only swimming pools, beaches and parks across the Islamic republic. They also travel in the back of public buses, or use women-only taxis or carriages on the metro.

All classes in Iranian schools and in some universities are segregated.

Women are also required by law to observe an Islamic dress code, with those improperly wearing mandatory headscarves or dressed in “vulgar” attire being confronted by the country’s so-called morality police.