Iranian sport climber Elnaz Rekabi returns to Tehran after competing without wearing required hijab
Iranian competitive climber Elnaz Rakabi He returned to Tehran on Wednesday morning after competing in the Asian Championships of the International Federation of Sports Climbing in South Korea without wearing the headscarf, which is required for female athletes from the Islamic Republic.
Rekabi, 33, was greeted at Imam Khomeini International Airport by cheers and people chanted “Hero!” In her taxi, as she was driving through the huge crowds at about 5 a.m., Show the video on Twitter.
The athlete’s decision not to wear compulsory hijab During her Sunday competition in Seoul it followed the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in the custody of the country’s morality police after she was arrested for not wearing a headscarf properly.
Amini’s death sparked protests In 100 cities across the country they are now entering their fifth week. Although Iran has not provided an updated number of deaths in weeks, human rights groups estimate that more than 200 people have been killed and thousands arrested in the protests and the ensuing security crackdown.
On Tuesday, an Instagram account attributed to Rekabi described her hijab-free rivalry as “unintentional,” but it’s unclear if she actually wrote the post or what state she would be in if she did.
According to the Associated Press, the Iranian government routinely pressures activists at home and abroad, often broadcasting what a rights group describes as coerced confessions on state television.
It was also reported that supporters and Persian-speaking media outside Iran expressed concern about the safety of Rikabi after Sunday’s competition.
Inside the airport, state television cameras filmed my passengers entering the terminal building wearing a black baseball cap and a black hood covering her hair.
After receiving flowers from a spectator, she said that her failure to wear the hijab was “unintentional”, similar to what she posted on Instagram, and that her travel to Iran was as previously planned. She added that she was in a women-only waiting area before the event.
“Because I was so busy putting on my shoes and gear, I forgot to wear the hijab and then went to compete,” she told reporters.
She added, “I returned to Iran reassured, although I have a lot of tension and pressure. But so far, thank God, nothing has happened.”
The passengers left Seoul on Tuesday morning after Iranian officials reportedly confiscated her phone and passport, according to information provided by an “informed source” to BBC Persian.
The outlet also said she was initially scheduled to leave the country on Wednesday, but that her flight was unexpectedly lifted.
It was not clear where my passengers were heading from the airport, but IranWire, a website founded by Canadian-Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari who was once detained by Iran, reported that the athlete was to be “immediately transferred” to Tehran’s Evin prison.
The Iranian embassy in Seoul posted a tweet on Tuesday denying “all false and misleading news” about the departure of Rikabi. The tweet included a picture of Rekapi winning a bronze medal in a previous competition in Moscow, where she was wearing a headscarf instead of a picture of herself competing in Seoul.
In her first appearance during the week-long climbing event, the riders wore a headscarf, according to the International Federation of Sports Climbing. The controversy came during Sunday’s final when she wore a black headband instead of a headscarf.
“We understand that she will return to Iran and we will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves as soon as she arrives,” the union said in a statement. “It is important to emphasize that the safety of our athletes is paramount to us and we support any efforts to preserve the safety of an important member of our community in this situation.”
The union told the Associated Press that it had been in contact with both passengers and Iranian officials, but declined to reveal the substance of those calls. The union also refused to discuss the post attributed to Rekapi on Instagram and the allegations contained therein.
South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs It also acknowledged the departure of Rikabi and her team, without going into details.
Daniel Wallace of Fox News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.