Darya Safai

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Darya Safai
Darya safai-1480075466.jpg
Member of the Chamber of Representatives
Assumed office
10 June 2019
Personal details
Born (1975-04-07) 7 April 1975 (age 44)
Tehran, Iran
CitizenshipIran, Belgium
Political partyNew Flemish Alliance
Spouse(s)Saeed Bashirtash

Darya Safai (Persian: دریا صفایی‎, born 7 April 1975) is a member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives for New Flemish Alliance.

Early life and education[edit]

She grew up in the Iran after the revolution of 1979.[1][2]

She was a final-year dental student at the University of Tehran in 1999, when she participated in the student protest together with her husband Saeed Bashirtash. As a result, she was arrested and wound up in prison. After she was temporarily released on bail, she decided to flee together with husband via Turkey to Belgium. She was sentenced in absence to two years of imprisonment by the revolutionary court of the Islamic Republic of Iran.[3][1][2][4][5][6][7][excessive citations]

In Belgium she graduated again as a dentist.[3]


In 2014 she founded the group ‘Let Iranian Women Enter Their Stadiums’ to strive for the right of Iranian women to attend sport games in stadiums..[8][9][10] She uses the stadium ban as a symbol of one of the many discriminations Iranian women are confronted with on a daily basis.[2][7]

In February 2015, Darya Safai wrote a letter to Sepp Blatter, at that time President of FIFA, about the situation of the Iranian women and what they expected from FIFA.[3][11][12] FIFA does not comply its statutes regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran: Article 3 of FIFA’s statutes:

“Discrimination of any kind against a Country, private person or group of people on account of race, skin colour, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, language, religion, political opinion or any other opinion, wealth, birth or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.” This letter has been supported and signed by more than 200 prominent Iranian academics, human-, civil- and political activists, political prisoners and artists.[11]

At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro she showed her banner during the volleyball games of the Iranian men's volleyball team. This action caused a lot of controversy. Olympic officials and security personnel threatened to eject her for holding the banner in front of the cameras. But she didn't go and displayed the sign during different games. This story was covered by media worldwide.[13][5][14][15][16][17][18][19][6][7][20]

On June 2 2017, Darya Safai and a fellow activist showed the 'Let Iranian Women Enter Their Stadiums' banner during the Italy-Iran FIVB Volleyball World League match[21] in Pesaro, Italy.[22] Italian police officers allegedly prevented them from performing the demonstration, removed Darya Safai by force from the stadium bleachers, and cut the banner into pieces,[23] while being filmed by at least one bystander.[24] On June 4 2017 Italian journalist Michele Serra, on his daily column hosted by La Repubblica's front page, urged Italian authorities to issue an official apology in favor of Datya Safai.[25] As of June 5 2017, no official statement has been made by Italian authorities.


In October 2015 her book ‘Lopen tegen de wind’ ('Running against the Wind'), about her life story and her fight against discrimination of Iranian women, was published.[26][2] In September 2018 her book ‘Plots mocht ik niet meer lachen’ (‘Suddenly I wasn’t allowed to laugh anymore) was published.[27][2]


On March 21 2016, she received the Ebbenhouten Spoor award for exceptional merit as Flemish newcomer.[28]

In December 2016, she was awarded the title ‘Women Of Peace’ by the Belgian Secretary of State for Equal Opportunities at the Belgian Senate, for her fight for women’s rights.[29]


  1. ^ a b Thompson, Andrea (23 September 2016). "Human Rights Heroines Take The Lead At Today's Annual UN Geneva Summit" – via http://www.marieclaire.co.uk.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Darya Safai uit Wemmel strijdt voor vrouwenrechten". Ring TV | Jouw zender, Jouw nieuws. Retrieved 2016-02-23.
  3. ^ a b c Gordon, Aaron. "Meet the badass who got FIFA to care about justice". sports.vice.com.
  4. ^ Bonte, Arièle. "JO de Rio : la femme derrière la banderole "Laissez les Iraniennes entrer dans leurs stades"". Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Adelson, Eric. "Iranian protester 1, International Olympic Committee 0". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Giovio, Eleonora. "La lucha de una mujer iraní contra las prohibiciones". El País. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Wyatt, Daisy. "Darya Safai: A strong woman can change history - Iranian media are scared to show that". INews. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  8. ^ Vasavda, Mihir (7 September 2015). "For Iran's women fans, a win away from home". Indian Express.
  9. ^ Worden, Minky (27 August 2015). "In Iran's "Freedom" Stadium, There is No True Freedom". Human Rights Watch.
  10. ^ Gordon, Aaron (18 February 2016). "IRAN'S STADIUM BAN ON WOMEN PUTS THE FIVB IN A PRECARIOUS POSITION" – via sports.vice.com.
  11. ^ a b Pakzad, Sarina (31 March 2015). "Stadionverbot für Frauen" – via Deutsche Welle.
  12. ^ Bhat, Prajwal (20 September 2015). "For Iran's women, India is home away from home" – via The Manipal Journal.
  13. ^ McCauley, Janie. "Olympic security asks female Iranian fan to drop sign". The Associated Press. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  14. ^ "Iranians chora após ser impedida de protestar em logo de vôlei". O Globo. Retrieved August 14, 2016.
  15. ^ Bulman, May. "Rio 2016: Olympic security tell Iranian woman to leave after she holds sign calling for women's equality". The Independent. Retrieved August 14, 2016.
  16. ^ "Río 2016: el desconsuelo de la activista irani a la que intentaron expulsar en un partido de voleibol durante las Olimpiadas". BBC. Retrieved August 14, 2016.
  17. ^ Gordon, Aaron. "We sat with Iranian protestor as she fought to display her banner at the Olympics". Vice Sports. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  18. ^ Bonte, Arièle. "JO de Rio : la femme derrière la banderole "Laissez les Iraniennes entrer dans leurs stades"". Le Figaro. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  19. ^ "Rio 2016, la protesta durante il volley maschile: 'Lasciate entrare le donne negli stadi iraniani' Galleria fotografica". La Repubblica. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  20. ^ Lorin, Linda. "L'ÉTOFFE DES HÉROS Stades en Iran, où sont les femmes ?". ARTE. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  21. ^ http://worldleague.2017.fivb.com/en/group1/schedule/7542-italy-iran/post
  22. ^ "VOLLEY MASCHILE STRISCIONE PRO DONNE IRAN, INTERVIENE POLIZIA - la Repubblica.it". Archivio - la Repubblica.it (in Italian). Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  23. ^ Safai, Darya (2017-06-04). "The Italian Police cut our banner into peaces but it won't stop us from fighting against #StadiumBan for Iranian wmnpic.twitter.com/ODEha9iaAa". @SafaiDarya. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  24. ^ "Pesaro, la battaglia dell'attivista iraniana". Rainews. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  25. ^ "> L'amaca - la Repubblica.it". Archivio - la Repubblica.it (in Italian). Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  26. ^ Safai, Darya (2015). LOPEN TEGEN DE WIND, Laat Iraanse vrouwen in hun stadions. ISBN 9789082188646.
  27. ^ Safai, Darya (2018). PLOTS MOCHT IK NIET MEER LACHEN. ISBN 9789089319074.
  28. ^ "N-VA reikt Ebbenhouten Spoor uit aan Darya Safai - Metro". 21 March 2016.
  29. ^ "Lizette Stiers is vredesvrouw - Pax Christi Vlaanderen". www.paxchristi.be (in Dutch).