American Jordan Burroughs gold medal victory over Iran’s Sadegh Goudarzi in men’s 74kg freestyle wrestling led to this poignant photo, proving the Olympic brings the world together like no other event.
A group of Iranian female martial artists have hit out at Reuters over a report that allegedly described them as “assassins,” saying they are suing the media organization for defamation, Iran’s state television reported on Wednesday.
The Reuters report came out last month but does not appear to be available anywhere except in the form of a slideshow that does not mention the word assassins.
A Reuters representative told The Atlantic’s Max Fisher in an email today that “there was indeed an error in a Reuters video script that was promptly corrected.” However, Fisher and others have been unable to locate the video. Press TV’s selection of the claimed Reuters video, meanwhile, features a British narrator describing the Iranian female athletes as possibly “the West’s worst enemy” and “ninja assassins,” according to The Atlantic.
Press TV said Reuters responded to the group’s complaints about the “distorted” report by issuing corrections but came short of retracting the piece.
Women are barred from many sports activities in the Islamic Republic due to the country’s restrictive moral codes, a point of ongoing contention between the country’s restless young female population and the authorities.
It may be why the government has invested so much in areas like martial arts in recent years, with Ninjutsu clubs throughout Iran supervised directly by the Ministry of Sports’ Martial Arts Federation.
It’s proven hugely popular. A traditional Japanese martial art that often focuses on guerrilla techniques like espionage and camouflage, Ninjutsu is practiced by some three thousand women throughout Iran, according to the UPI news agency.
As The Guardian put it, for women in Iran, it “turns out that when you’re denied basic human rights, restricted in your ability to dress how you want and mix with the people you choose, and when your legal testimony is officially recognised as being worth exactly half that of a man’s, you develop — if these [Reuters] images are anything to go by — a lot of rage.”
So it would seem. These women are not through with Reuters. They say damage has already been done and demand reparation.
Martial artist Raheleh Davoudzadeh told Press TV that the report “can harm our chances to travel to other countries to take part in global tournaments and international championships,” concerns possibly heightened by Saudi Arabia’s recent announcement that it will allow female athletes to represent them at the upcoming Olympics — an all-time first for the conservative Muslim nation.
It also comes after world football officials denied Iranian women’s soccer team entry into an Olympic qualifying round in Jordan over Iran’s insistence that its female players wear headscarves, a move that lead Iran to forfeit the game, according to CNN.
Such events have not helped Iran’s sports standing internationally, making the Reuters report all the more unfortunate, martial arts trainer Akbar Faraji told Press TV, calling the defamation lawsuit “a matter of reputation.”
One female ninja, Khatereh Jalilzadeh, said the group is “taking legal action because the ladies that train in Ninjutsu first and foremost enjoy it as a sport,” explaining that it’s not political, it’s just “about working out and staying fit.”
The fact that Reuters is a British news organization and the ninja report was allegedly picked up by several other British media outlets, also plays into deep-seated Iranian animosity towards the country, where prejudices have been reinforced by years of political rhetoric denouncing “Britain’s imperialistic actions.”
But these women are angered by more recent history. Reuters “blatantly lied about us,” Jalilzadeh told Press TV.
The reporter responsible for all the brouhaha, meanwhile, “left Iran shortly before a court case was opened,” noted Press TV.
Ellis Coleman a wrestler from Northern Michigan University pulled off one of the more ridiculous wrestling takedowns ever seen at the Junior World Championships. Coleman pulled the flying squirrel on Mehdi Chooli Zeidvand of Iran before he had any idea of what happened.
Iranian actress Pegah Ahangarani was jailed last week when she prepared to leave for Germany to blog about the women’s World Cup for a German radio station. Ahangarani, 27, was arrested after being warned by the government not to travel to the event.
The Guardian, an English newspaper, said the arrest appears to be part on an ongoing crackdown on female journalists and filmmakers. A woman sports photojournalist, Maryam Majd, also was detained last month as she prepared to leave for the World Cup.
Iran has been at odds with FIFA, the world governing body for soccer. In June, FIFA banned Iran’s women’s team from playing a qualifying match for the 2012 Olympics, ruling that the team’s tight headscarves broke the association’s dress code. In Iran, all women must cover their hair, neck, arms and legs in accordance with Shiite Islamic tenets.
The Iranian women’s soccer team has been disqualified right before a crucial qualifying match because they wore Islamic headscarves. Ready to play a crucial Olympic qualifying match with Jordan in Amman on Friday, the Iranian team was dismissed by officials of the international football association, FIFA. The officials decided just before the kickoff that the tight headscarves the Iranian players were wearing to cover their hair broke the association’s dress code, FIFA said. After Jordan was awarded a 3-0 victory, Iran’s players took to the field crying.
In the Islamic Republic of Iran all women are obliged to cover their hair, neck, arms and legs according to the state’s interpretation of Shiite Islamic tenets. Female athletes who compete internationally have to obey the country’s dress code. Iranian women athletes have excelled during international events in sports such as karate and volleyball, but are notably absent from sports such as swimming and gymnastics.
“This ruling means that women soccer in Iran is over,” said Shahrzad Mozafar, the team’s former head coach. She said that now that FIFA is no longer allowing Iranian women to wear scarves, the Iranian government will no longer send them abroad for competitions. “Headscarves are simply what we wear in Iran,” she said.
In April 2010 FIFA announced that it was planning to ban headscarves and other religious outings during the 2012 Olympics. Following the ruling, Iran’s team designed special headscarves that players wrapped tightly around their heads and necks. The team said they were in line with guidelines set by the football association.
FIFA did not agree and that its officials had been right to stop the Iranian women from playing the qualifier. Iranian officials were “informed thoroughly” before Friday’s match against Jordan that the headscarf covering a woman’s neck is banned for safety reasons, an unidentified FIFA official said.
Boxing champ Muhammad Ali is asking Iran to release two American hikers held since 2009 on spy charges. Ali, arguably the most prominent U.S. Muslim released a letter he wrote to The Associated Press a letter he wrote to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in February. The letter asks Khameini to release Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who were arrested while hiking in northern Iraq near the Iranian border. A third hiker, Sarah Shourd, was released on bail in September.
“Please show the world the compassion I know you have in your heart,” he wrote, asking Khamenei as a brother in Islam to show the same mercy and compassion for the two men.
His wife, Lonnie Ali, told the AP in a telephone interview from their Arizona home that her husband was asked to intervene by the late John Arum, son of boxing promoter Bob Arum. John Arum, also a hiker, died on Storm King Mountain in Washington state shortly after he asked Ali to help. She also said he would be willing to go to Iran to help secure the hikers release but it would depend on his health. Parkinson’s Disease has limited his speech and movement.
Just two weeks before the beginning of 2010-11 NBA Season, Hamed Haddadi has not been able to join his Memphis Grizzlies. Iranian Haddadi is trying to resolve a legal issue that has prevented him from leaving his native country. Haddadi played a key role for Iran basketball team in the 2010 FIBA World Championship held in Turkey.
The Grizzlies are scheduled to play Atlanta Hawks in its opening game of the new season on October 28. Last season in 36 games, Haddadi averaged 1.7 points and 2.1 rebounds in a reserve role with the Grizzlies.