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12-24-2003, 07:07 AM
The click of balls on a pool table is being heard again in Iran nearly a quarter of a century after the ayatollahs outlawed the game because of its associations with gambling. It is a triumphant sound.
Some 2,800 pool halls have opened in Iran, with 400 of them in Tehran alone, since the ban on pool, snooker, and billiards was lifted two years ago.

Controls on pool halls were eased, say officials, as a safety valve to relieve boredom and disaffection in a country where more than half the population of 62 million are less than 20 years old, and unemployment stands at 16 percent.

Yet some restrictions remain. Women cannot join most pool clubs or play at the same time as men: The posture adopted by a woman over the table is apparently considered sexually suggestive.

Nor can the 40,000 theology students in Qom, Iran's center of clerical learning, take up a pool cue. Clerics in the city this summer insisted the ban must remain there to prevent gambling.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1224/p07s01-wome.html