Iranian athlete Elnaz Rekabi sent home, fate uncertain after competing without hijab


An Iranian feminine aggressive climber left South Korea on Tuesday after competing at an occasion by which she climbed without her nation’s obligatory scarf protecting, authorities mentioned. Farsi-language media exterior of Iran warned she might have been compelled to depart early by Iranian officers and will face arrest again house, which Tehran shortly denied.

The determination by Elnaz Rekabi to forgo the scarf, or hijab, got here as protests sparked by the Sept. 16 demise 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.

The demonstrations, drawing school-age kids, oil staff 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.

A later Instagram submit on an account attributed to Rekabi, a a number of medallist in competitions, 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.

Rekabi left Seoul on a Tuesday morning flight, the Iranian Embassy in South Korea mentioned.

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.

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BBC Persian additionally mentioned 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 jail after arriving within the nation. Evin jail was the positioning of an enormous hearth this weekend that killed at the least eight prisoners.

Later Tuesday, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry acknowledged that the Iranian athlete and her group had left the nation, without elaborating.

Apology in Instagram submit

In a tweet, the Iranian Embassy in Seoul denied “all of the pretend, false information and disinformation” relating to Rekabi’s departure on Tuesday. But as a substitute 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 did not placed on a hijab throughout Sunday’s last on the International Federation of Sport Climbing’s Asia Championship, in response to the Seoul-based Korea Alpine Federation, the organizers of the occasion.

Federation officers mentioned 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 emblem on it.

Demonstrators chant slogans whereas marching in the course of the March of Solidarity for Iran in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. Demonstrations have taken place inside Iran and all over the world following the mid-September demise of Mahsa Amini in custody. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

The later Instagram submit, written within the first particular person, provided an apology on Rekabi’s behalf. The submit blamed a sudden name for her to climb the wall within the competitors — though footage of the competitors confirmed Rekabi relaxed as she approached and after she competed. It additionally sought to explain her journey again to Iran on Tuesday as being “on schedule.”

Rekabi was on Iran’s 11-member delegation, comprised of eight athletes and three coaches, to the occasion, in response to the federation.

Federation officers mentioned they weren’t initially conscious of Rekabi competing without the hijab however seemed into the case after receiving inquires about her. They mentioned the occasion would not have any guidelines on requiring feminine athletes carrying or not carrying headscarves. However, Iranian ladies competing overseas underneath the Iranian flag all the time put on the hijab.

“Our understanding is that she is returning to Iran, and we are going to proceed to watch the scenario because it develops on her arrival,” the International Federation of Sport Climbing, which oversaw the occasion, mentioned in an announcement. “It is vital to emphasize that athletes’ security is paramount for us and we assist any efforts to maintain a valued member of our neighborhood secure on this scenario.”

The federation mentioned 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.

Hundreds killed in protests

Rekabi, 33, has completed on the rostrum 3 times within the Asian Championships, taking one silver and two bronze medals for her efforts.

So far, human rights teams estimate that over 200 individuals have been killed within the protests and the violent safety drive crackdown that adopted. Iran has not provided a demise toll in weeks. Demonstrations have been seen in over 100 cities, in response to the group Human Rights Activists in Iran. Thousands are believed to have been arrested.

Front Burner27:16The lengthy combat for ladies’s rights in Iran

Since the demise of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini within the custody of Iran’s morality police on September sixteenth, protests have erupted all through Iran and in some 160 cities across the globe — with a number of the largest protests taking place right here in Canada. Despite violent crackdowns on the demonstrations in Iran, protesters are nonetheless popping out to the streets. And ladies have remained on the forefront, at occasions burning their headscarves, or chopping off their hair. But that is removed from the primary time that ladies have led protest actions within the nation. So at present we’re looking at how the Mahsa Amini demonstrations match into a protracted historical past of girls’s activism in Iran — and whether or not or not this time feels totally different. Our visitor is Mona Tajali, an affiliate professor of International Relations, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Agnes Scott College. She’s additionally the creator of the latest ebook Women’s Political Representation in Iran and Turkey: Demanding a Seat on the Table.

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 response to 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, reasonably than Iranians angered by Amini’s demise and the nation’s different woes.

Iranians have seen their life financial savings evaporate; the nation’s foreign money, the rial, plummet; and Tehran’s nuclear take care of world powers has been diminished to tatters.


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