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Last Updated: Monday, 8 May 2006, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Iran women sports ruling vetoed
Iranian football fans
Some hardliners pointed to the deplorable behaviour in stadiums
The supreme leader of Iran has vetoed a ruling by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that would have allowed women to attend major sporting events.

Several ayatollahs and MPs had said last month's ruling violated Islamic law and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has now said it should be reconsidered.

Mr Ahmadinejad had said lifting the ban would "promote chastity".

Separately, Iranian police are launching a new drive against owners of illegal satellite television equipment.

Long-time ban

Ayatollah Khamenei has the final say on all matters of state.

Government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham said President Ahmadinejad would act according to the supreme leader's wishes.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Ayatollah Khamenei said the top clergy should be respected

Six grand ayatollahs and several MPs had protested against Mr Ahmadinejad's move, saying it violated Islamic law for a woman to look at the body of a male stranger.

One MP had said if the reformists had tried the move there would have been suicide bombers protesting on the streets of Tehran.

The ban has been in place since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

President Ahmadinejad, who is regarded as an ultra conservative, had said women must be given a chance to watch all sporting events.

"The best stands should be allocated to women and families in the stadiums in which national and important matches are being held," he said.

The move had been welcomed by women's rights campaigners, who have long protested against their banishment from stadiums.

Meanwhile, police are launching a new campaign against the owners of illegal satellite television equipment.

Iran's official Isna news agency quoted the chief of police, Esmail Ahmadi-Mogadam, as saying that if such equipment was visible in homes, it would be seized.

Satellite television, deemed decadent and officially banned, is thought to be picked up by four million dishes in the country.

Satellite dish owners can watch hundreds of international television channels, including some that are sponsored by the Iranian opposition in exile.

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