DUBAI, United Arab Emirates –
Iranian aggressive climber Elnaz Rekabi acquired a hero’s welcome on her return to Tehran early Wednesday, after competing in South Korea without carrying a compulsory scarf required of feminine athletes from the Islamic Republic.
Rekabi’s resolution to not put on the hijab whereas competing Sunday comes as protests sparked by the Sept. 16 dying in custody of a 22-year-old girl have entered a fifth week. Mahsa Amini was detained by the nation’s morality police over her clothes — and her dying has seen girls eradicating their obligatory hijabs in public.
The demonstrations, drawing school-age youngsters, oil employees and others to the road in over 100 cities, characterize the most-serious problem to Iran’s theocracy for the reason that mass protests surrounding its disputed 2009 presidential election.
Supporters and Farsi-language media exterior of Iran have nervous about Rekabi’s security after she select to compete without the hijab.
An Instagram submit Tuesday on an account attributed to Rekabi described her not carrying a hijab as “unintentional,” although it wasn’t instantly clear whether or not she wrote the submit or what situation she was in on the time. The Iranian authorities routinely pressures activists at house and overseas, typically airing what rights group describe as coerced confessions on state tv.
Video shared on-line confirmed giant crowds gathered early Wednesday at Imam Khomeini International Airport exterior of Tehran, the sanctioned nation’s predominant gateway in another country. The movies, equivalent to recognized options of the airport, confirmed crowds chanting the 33-year-old Rekabi’s title and calling her a hero.
She walked into one of many airport’s terminals, filmed by state tv cameras and carrying a black baseball cap and a black hoodie protecting her hair. She acquired flowers from an onlooker, after which repeated what had been posted on Instagram that not carrying the hijab was “unintentional” and her journey had been as beforehand deliberate.
Rekabi described being in a girls’s solely ready space previous to her climb.
“Because I used to be busy placing on my footwear and my gear, it triggered me to neglect to placed on my hijab after which I went to compete,” she stated.
She added: “I came back to Iran with peace of mind although I had a lot of tension and stress. But so far, thank God, nothing has happened.”
Outside, she apparently entered a van and slowly was pushed by way of the gathered crowd, who cheered her. It wasn’t clear the place she went after that.
Rekabi left Seoul on a Tuesday morning flight. The BBC’s Persian service, which has intensive contacts inside Iran regardless of being banned from working there, quoted an unnamed “informed source” who described Iranian officers as seizing each Rekabi’s cell phone and passport.
BBC Persian additionally stated she initially had been scheduled to return on Wednesday, however her flight apparently had been moved up unexpectedly.
IranWire, one other web site specializing in the nation based by Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari who as soon as was detained by Iran, alleged that Rekabi can be instantly transferred to Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison after arriving in the nation. Evin Prison was the location of a large fireplace this previous weekend that killed at the least eight prisoners.
In a tweet, the Iranian Embassy in Seoul denied “all the fake, false news and disinformation” concerning Rekabi’s departure. But as an alternative of posting a photograph of her from the Seoul competitors, it posted a picture of her carrying a scarf at a earlier competitors in Moscow, the place she took a bronze medal.
Rekabi didn’t placed on a hijab throughout Sunday’s closing on the International Federation of Sport Climbing’s Asia Championship.
Federation officers stated Rekabi wore a hijab throughout her preliminary appearances on the one-week climbing occasion. She wore only a black headband when competing Sunday, her darkish hair pulled again in a ponytail; she had a white jersey with Iran’s flag as a brand on it.
Footage of the competitors confirmed Rekabi relaxed as she approached the climbing and after she competed.
Iranian girls competing overseas below the Iranian flag all the time put on the hijab.
“Our understanding is that she is returning to Iran, and we will continue to monitor the situation as it develops on her arrival,” the International Federation of Sport Climbing, which oversaw the occasion, stated in a press release. “It is important to stress that athletes’ safety is paramount for us and we support any efforts to keep a valued member of our community safe in this situation.”
The federation stated it had been in contact with each Rekabi and Iranian officers, however declined to elaborate on the substance of these calls when reached by The Associated Press. The federation additionally declined to debate the Instagram submit attributed to Rekabi and the claims in it.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry acknowledged the departures of the Iranian athlete and her crew from the nation without elaborating.
Rekabi, 33, has completed on the rostrum 3 times in the Asian Championships, taking one silver and two bronze medals.
So far, human rights teams estimate that over 200 individuals have been killed in the protests and the violent safety drive crackdown that adopted. Iran has not provided a dying toll in weeks. Demonstrations have been seen in over 100 cities, in line with the group Human Rights Activists in Iran. Thousands are believed to have been arrested.
Gathering details about the demonstrations stays tough, nonetheless. Internet entry has been disrupted for weeks by the Iranian authorities. Meanwhile, authorities have detained at the least 40 journalists, in line with the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Iranian officers, together with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have repeatedly alleged the nation’s international enemies are behind the continued demonstrations, moderately than Iranians angered by Amini’s dying and the nation’s different woes.
Iranians have seen their life financial savings evaporate; the nation’s foreign money, the rial, plummeted and Tehran’s nuclear cope with world powers has been decreased to tatters.