Elnaz Rekabi Of Iran Participated In Tehran Without Wearing A Hijab.

Elnaz Rekabi, an Iranian climber, arrived back in Tehran early on Wednesday after competing in South Korea without a hijab, a move widely interpreted as showing support for anti-government protesters amid months of unrest over the Islamic Republic’s obligatory hijab.

It was “Unintentional”

Rekabi claimed that not wearing a hijab was “unintentional” conduct on her side in a meticulous, emotionless interview she gave to Iran’s hard-line state media after landing. However, a large crowd gathered outside Imam Khomeini International Airport and shouted for “Elnaz the Champion,” citing Rekabi as an inspiration for their ongoing demonstrations. This crowd included women who were not wearing the hijab.

After returning home, Rekabi will likely face an uncertain future. Supporters and Farsi-language media outside of Iran have expressed concern for Rekabi’s safety following her homecoming, particularly in light of activists’ claims that security forces had detained thousands of protesters thus far.

Rekabi has received various reactions, highlighting the widening divisions in Iranian society as nationwide demonstrations over the death of a 22-year-old woman on September 16 enter their fifth week. The nation’s morality police arrested Mahsa Amini because of her attire, and her passing has led to more women taking off their hijabs in public.

The protests, which brought school-age children, oil employees, and others to the streets in more than 100 towns, pose the most significant threat to Iran’s theocracy since the widespread rallies that followed its contentious 2009 presidential election.

Rekabi, 33, was immediately embraced by people who supported the demonstrations that increasingly included calls for overthrowing the nation’s theocracy since she participated without her headscarf in Seoul during the International Federation of Sports finals Climbing.

However, several semi-governmental organizations generally oversee all forms of organized sport in Iran, from soccer leagues to Rekabi’s competitive climbing. Whether participating domestically or internationally, female athletes must have their hair covered as a display of piety, whether competing in volleyball or track. Women must wear these head coverings in Iran and Afghanistan, which the Taliban rule.

That made Rekabi’s public appearance without one on Sunday a contentious situation. She arrived early on Wednesday wearing a black hoodie over her hair and a baseball cap at Imam Khomeini International Airport. A man gave her flowers.

Rekabi initially reiterated a statement she had previously made on an Instagram account in her name, claiming that she had chosen not to wear the hijab “intentionally.” The Iranian government frequently broadcasts what rights organizations describe as coerced confessions on state television, the same cameras she confronted upon her return home, and regularly pressures activists both at home and abroad.

Before her climb, Rekabi claimed she was only in a waiting room for women.

She explained that she forgot to put on her hijab because she was so busy getting her shoes and equipment on before heading to the competition.

Despite having experienced a great deal of tension and stress, she continued, “I returned to Iran with peace of mind. But thankfully, nothing has occurred thus far.

The negative image suddenly gave way to a lively scene of people celebrating outside the station. Videos online, which match well-known airport features, show the crowd cheering Rekabi’s name and referring to her as a hero. She was captured on camera waving from a van.

Rekabi flew out of Seoul early on Tuesday. Rekabi’s passport and mobile phone were reportedly taken by Iranian authorities, according to the BBC’s Persian service, which is still permitted to operate there but has many contacts within Iran. She was initially slated to return on Wednesday, but according to BBC Persian, her flight was abruptly changed.

Rekabi could be brought right away to Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, where dissidents are kept, according to IranWire, another website dedicated to the nation run by Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, who Iran also imprisoned. Over the weekend, a large fire there claimed the lives of at least eight detainees.

International Olympic Committee

Later on Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee reported holding a joint meeting with representatives from Iran and the International Federation of Sport Climbing. According to the IOC, it has “clear assurances that Ms. Rekabi won’t face any repercussions and will continue to train and compete.” Other athletes, though, have experienced harassment due to the protests.

Rekabi joined a call with officials, according to the IOC, and was said to be with her family.

Rekabi’s departure had been the subject of “all the phony, misleading news, and misinformation,” according to the Iranian Embassy in Seoul. However, it published a picture of her from a prior tournament in Moscow, where she won a bronze medal, rather than one of her from the Seoul competition.

During her early appearances at the seven-day climbing competition in Seoul, Rekabi donned a hijab. She competed on Sunday with just a black headband, with her dark hair put back into a ponytail. Her white jersey featured the Iranian flag as its emblem.

Protesters demonstration

On Wednesday, a small group of protestors held a demonstration in front of the Iranian embassy in Seoul. Some of the ladies in the gathering chopped off strands of hair, as other demonstrators have done in similar actions around the world since Amini’s passing.

Human rights organizations estimate that more than 200 people have died due to the deadly security force response following the weeks-long rallies. In recent weeks, Iran has not provided a death toll. According to the organization Human Rights Activists in Iran, protests have taken place in over 100 places. It’s estimated that thousands have been detained.

Information on the demonstrations is still hard to come by. The Iranian government has been blocking internet access for several weeks. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, police have imprisoned at least 40 journalists.

Iranian authorities, notably Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have frequently claimed that the ongoing protests are not being driven by Iranians who are upset over Amini’s death and other problems in the country but rather by the country’s foreign foes.

Iranians have seen their life savings disappear, the rial, the nation’s currency, has collapsed, and the nuclear agreement between Tehran and the five major powers is in shambles.

 

Gloria Flynt

I am a Research Content Specialist in Update.co.ke. I have been working with update.co.ke for over 6 months. Update.co.ke is a digital platform that provides news and analysis on business, economy, technology and entrepreneurship in worldwide. I love reading and writing about anything that has to do with science, technology, and developments in the digital world.

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