Tehran under pressure after the death of "the blue girl"

Sahar Khodayari was arrested in March while attempting to enter Azadi Stadium in Tehran. She died on September 9, at the age of 29, after self-immolation by fire in the revolutionary court of the city. DR

On the two photos that exist of Sahar Khodayari on the Internet, the young woman has prominent cheekbones and laughing eyes, full of life. The Iranian soccer enthusiast died on 9 September after setting herself on fire in Tehran's Revolutionary Court, where the 29-year-old woman was to be tried on 8 September. His fault: having tried to enter a football stadium in Tehran on March 12 to attend the match of his favorite team, Esteghlal.

Now nicknamed "The Blue Girl" (the color of Esteghlal), Sahar Khodayari has become the symbol of the Iranian struggle to enter the stadiums. Since the revolution in 1979, the Islamic Republic has not allowed women to attend football matches, believing that"Atmosphere" is not there "Appropriate".

FIFA raises its tone

In recent years, football supporters and activists have tried to defy the ban, at the cost of arrests and convictions. But the stir caused by the death of Sahar Khodayari is such that it could well bring about the end of this ban. The International Football Federation (FIFA) raised the tone, judging the situation "Unacceptable" and asking that "Women are allowed to enter football stadiums in Iran".

Sahar Khodayari was arrested in March while attempting to enter the Azadi Grand Stadium in Tehran. " She had been a boy, wearing a blue wig and a long coat, explains his sister, in an interview with the Iranian daily Shahrvand. But when one of the guards wanted to control her, she objected by telling her that she was a girl. "We are a religious family," says the sister. Sahar Khodayari is being detained.

Read also Football: FIFA says Iran will open stadiums for women

The next day, his family, who live in the religious city of Qom (150 kilometers from the capital), goes to Tehran to try to secure his release. In vain. His parents can not raise the exorbitant bond required by the judge. The Iranian remains in prison before being released three days later. "When she came out, she was sadder and less sociable," explains Sahar's sister. In the file mounted against it, add loads such as: "Breach of public morality" and "Insulting security guards".

The day Sahar Khodayari goes to court to pick up her mobile phone, confiscated during her arrest, she hears one of the employees say that a six-month sentence is waiting for her. The day of his trial in Tehran, the judge is absent, for " personal reasons ". But the pressure on the girl is huge. She buys gasoline and immolates herself in front of the court, right in the center of Tehran, in front of the horrified eyes of the passers-by.

According to her sister and father, she was suffering from psychological problems – which was reported to the judicial authorities, who paid no attention to it. Burned to the third degree on 90% of his body, Sahar Khodayari succumbs to his injuries. According to the Iranian media, she was buried without her parents being allowed to release the date of her funeral.

Supports and retaliation

After her death, #BlueGirl ("Blue Girl") became very popular on Twitter. The stir has even pushed some Iranian politicians to react. "She was the daughter of Iran, the country where men decide for women and deprive them of their most basic human rights, sorry reformist MP Parvaneh Salahshouri on Twitter. We are all responsible for the arrest and burns of all Sahars in this territory. "

In the Iranian football world too, voices were raised to mourn the death of the young woman and to demand the opening of stadiums to Iranian women. At the beginning of their first match since the tragedy, Esteghlal players wore black tops (the color of mourning), with a heart in blue, with the words "The Blue Girl", in English and Persian.

Like its fans, Esteghlal was Sahar Khodayari's favorite football team.
Like its fans, Esteghlal was Sahar Khodayari's favorite football team. Atta Kenare / AFP

This gesture made the most conservative react. Their target: Esteghlal's captain, Vouria Ghafouri, who, on Instagram, had called his comrades to "Show unity and solidarity so that women finally get the right to enter the football stadiums". The very conservative Iranian press agency Fars has immediately demanded reprisals against the captain of Esteghlal for his action "Pleased the anti-revolutionary media". A very serious fault …

In Iran, however, the hour of truth is coming soon: FIFA asks that, from October 10, during the first qualifying match of the national team for the next World Cup, against Cambodia, the Azadi stadium opens its doors Women's. A victory, if it goes well, with a bitter taste for Iranian women.


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