Recent comments by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggest that he might have softened his position on women taking part in sports. However, he continues to oppose women riding bicycles in public.
Iranian women do not appear to heed the Leader’s warning. They prefer to follow the advice of Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, a rights activist and daughter of the late President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. In a recent interview, Ms. Rafsanjani claimed to be the first person since the Revolution to have encouraged women to take part in the sport of cycling.
Islam does not permit gambling on games. However, Ayatollah Khamenei has appeared ambivalent in his condemnation of betting on sporting events. He has said that he believes “predicting the outcome of a match is permissible if the winner is to purify [heba] the money by transferring [solh] the ownership to his heirs in accordance with Islamic rules.”
Asked about injuries sustained by participants in boxing and karate matches, the Supreme Leader remarked: “There is no religious law prohibiting athletes from taking part in these contact sports as long as no one is seriously injured.”
He added: “But if a participant suffers bruises in the course of a match, he is entitled to receive financial compensation from the other party.”