Elnaz Rekabi, who competed without hijab, returns to cheering crowds in Tehran


Iranian aggressive climber Elnaz Rekabi obtained a hero’s welcome on her return to Tehran early Wednesday, after competing in South Korea without sporting a compulsory scarf required of feminine athletes from the Islamic Republic.

Rekabi’s resolution not to put on the hijab whereas competing Sunday comes as protests sparked by the Sept. 16 dying in custody of a 22-year-old lady have entered a fifth week. Mahsa Amini was detained by the nation’s morality police over her clothes — and her dying has seen ladies eradicating their obligatory hijabs in public.

The demonstrations, drawing school-age kids, oil staff and others to the road in over 100 cities, symbolize the most-serious problem to Iran’s theocracy because the mass protests surrounding its disputed 2009 presidential election.

Supporters and Farsi-language media exterior of Iran have anxious 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 sporting 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 residence and overseas, usually airing what rights group describe as coerced confessions on state tv.

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Video shared on-line confirmed giant crowds gathered early Wednesday at Imam Khomeini International Airport exterior of Tehran, the sanctioned nation’s primary gateway in a foreign country. The movies, corresponding to recognized options of the airport, confirmed crowds chanting the 33-year-old Rekabi’s identify and calling her a hero.

She walked into one of many airport’s terminals, filmed by state tv cameras and sporting a black baseball cap and a black hoodie masking her hair. She obtained flowers from an onlooker, after which repeated what had been posted on Instagram that not sporting the hijab was “unintentional” and her journey had been as beforehand deliberate.

Rekabi described being in a ladies’s solely ready space prior to her climb.

“Because I used to be busy placing on my sneakers and my gear, it induced me to neglect to placed on my hijab after which I went to compete,” she stated.

She added: “I got here again to Iran with peace of thoughts though I had numerous pressure and stress. But up to now, thank God, nothing has occurred.”

Cheers at airport

Outside, she apparently entered a van and slowly was pushed by 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 “knowledgeable supply” 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.

An image obtained by AFP exterior Iran, reportedly reveals objects lit on hearth in the capital Tehran, on October 8. (AFP/Getty Images)

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 could be instantly transferred to Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison after arriving in the nation. Evin Prison was the positioning of an enormous hearth this previous weekend that killed at the very least eight prisoners.

In a tweet, the Iranian Embassy in Seoul denied “all of the faux, false information 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 sporting a headband at a earlier competitors in Moscow, the place she took a bronze medal.

Rekabi did not placed on a hijab throughout Sunday’s ultimate 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 ladies competing overseas beneath the Iranian flag all the time put on the hijab.

This photograph launched by Mizan News Agency, reveals a workshop of Evin jail following a lethal hearth in Tehran, Iran, on Sunday. (Koosha Mahshid Falahi/Mizan News Agency/The Associated Press)

“Our understanding is that she is returning to Iran, and we’ll proceed to monitor the scenario because it develops on her arrival,” the International Federation of Sport Climbing, which oversaw the occasion, stated in an announcement. “It is essential to stress that athletes’ security is paramount for us and we assist any efforts to hold a valued member of our neighborhood secure in this example.”

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 focus on the Instagram submit attributed to Rekabi and the claims in it.

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 supplied a dying toll in weeks. Demonstrations have been seen in over 100 cities, in accordance to the group Human Rights Activists in Iran. Thousands are believed to have been arrested.

Gathering details about the demonstrations stays troublesome, nonetheless. Internet entry has been disrupted for weeks by the Iranian authorities. Meanwhile, authorities have detained at the very least 40 journalists, in accordance to the Committee to Protect Journalists.


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