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Activist demands Iran Olympics ban over ‘sexual apartheid’

Iranian-Belgian human rights activist Darya Safai, who lives in exile in Belgium, said that countries who do not respect “international charters and the universal values ​​of sport” should be expelled © AFP / Jessica LOPEZ

PARIS, France, Apr 14 – Iranian human rights activist Darya Safai on Friday demanded sports sanctions against her country as punishment for banning women from stadiums, a policy she described as “intolerable sexual apartheid”.

Speaking in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, one of the two cities bidding for the 2024 Olympics, the 42-year-old, wearing a tee-shirt bearing the slogan “Let Iranian women enter their stadiums”, demanded an end to segregation.

“We want to tell the International Olympic Committee and the international sports bodies that they must put an end to the discrimination and segregation that women face in sport, to say nothing is to condone it,” Safai told AFP.

Alongside other activists, she unveiled a banner which read: “Paris 2024 Against Sexual Apartheid — Boycott Saudi Arabia and Iran”.

Safai, who lives in exile in Belgium, said that countries who do not respect “international charters and the universal values ​​of sport” should be expelled.

“It has been four years that women have been banned from stadiums in Iran, this means they are excluded from society. The international community must be mobilised to re-establish this right.”

Although playing sport in Iran is not banned for women, “it requires the wearing of an Islamist outfit, which is another discrimination”, she claimed.

Annie Sugier, the president of the International League of Women’s Rights, added that there were similar problems in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia.

“Women are banned from stadiums and physical education for girls is also banned,” she said.

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