A top-class Iranian footballer has filed for asylum in Switzerland because she faces jail at home for playing without a hijab while wearing shorts and in a match alongside men.
Five-a-side international Shiva Amini, 28, was on a personal holiday in Switzerland in March when the Iranian FA spotted pictures of her wearing shorts while playing in a match with friends.
The veil has been a mandatory dress requirement for women in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979
She was dropped and barred from the national side as well as being banned from coaching or playing in league teams.
Amini has now stayed in Switzerland, fearing arrest on her return home and now thinks there is no safe way for her to return to her old life.
‘I cannot go back to Iran. I would be arrested at the airport and put in jail,’ she said.
An unnamed Swiss asylum centre is now her home and she told the country’s media that Iranian have already visited her parents and siblings to try to track down her location.
Amini explained that the problems started when she uploaded images of the friendly match to her social media account.
She talked with some people in the Iranian FA, and although Amini said some people showed understanding, others branded her as a danger to the Islamic Revolution.
Amini said: ‘A high-ranking official told me it was obvious that I was working with the opposition and anti-Islamic groups.’
She fears that she became the target of the Iranian government after international media picked up her plight, especially after the US government-funded ‘Voice of America’ covered her case in a Persian language programme.
Amini said: ‘I would not risk it again as I love my family and my country. I had a good life in Iran.’
She said she could not tell her parents the full story because of their advanced age.
Amini said: ‘They think that the Swiss government gave me the opportunity to live here as a sports teacher.’
Every day Amini goes out for a run, or in warmer days to play football with fellow asylum seekers.
‘They are not very athletic, so not a challenge for me. Without football and sports my life is meaningless.
Speaking out against the decision, the footballer said sport is more important than any veil.
‘The hijab should be an unimportant issue for us, the female players,’ she said.
‘However for the officials of the country, it seems to be a deal-breaker. I received a note from the federation to say not only had I played without a veil, but also I dared to play with boys.
‘So I was disqualified and I was removed from the national team. I was told this behaviour would cause me a lot of headaches at home.’
She also hit out at certain individuals who had previously supported her and the team.
She said people were on their side when they were winning medals and matches, but that they had turned their back on her and the squad by not coming out to criticise the decision.
‘Silence is betrayal of ourselves,’ Amini said.
The athlete talked to Iranian journalist Masig Alinejad, an activist behind My Stealthy Freedom, and said: ‘They were not even official games where I had to represent the Islamic Republic.
‘The officials of the Iranian Futsal Federation told me, ”When you are a member of an official team, you do not have the right to play without the veil even in non-official games abroad.
‘We are living in an Islamic country. Why did you have to play with boys? You would have been disqualified from the team even if you had played with boys wearing a veil in Iran’.’
In February, two promising chess-playing siblings were banned from tournaments in Iran after the sister failed to wear a hijab and her brother played an Israeli.
Dorsa and Borna Derakhshani, two of the country’s leading youth chess players, were told they can no longer be part of the national team.
Dorsa, an 18-year-old student in Spain, was banned after she did not wear a head covering during the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival earlier this year.
Her 15-year-old brother, Borna, who still lives in Iran, was told he couldn’t compete after playing a match against Israeli chess player Alexander Husman during the same tournament.
A month later, Iran has banned some of its female competitors from billiard competitions for a year for violating the Islamic codes of conduct at a tournament in China.
The Disciplinary Committee of Bowling, Billiard and Boxing Federation did not reveal the nature of the alleged offences, saying it would name the transgressors later.
‘Women sent to China Open (billiard) competitions will be banned from all domestic and foreign competitions for one year for violating the Islamic code,’ it said.
Back in 2012, FIFA banned Iranian women from competing in the Olympics, saying headscarves would be a safety issue during games.
It was eventually lifted two years later.
Since the 1979 revolution, Iran has required women to wear the Islamic headscarf in public.
The Islamic code also forbids women touching, dancing or singing with men outside their families.
Women are only allowed to show their face, hands and feet in public and are supposed to wear only modest colours.
Over the years, however, women have pushed back the boundaries of the law, with many wearing loose, brightly coloured headscarves far back on their heads.
Source » dailymail