In the midst of ferocious protests against the Islamic Republic’s restrictions on women’s attire, an Iranian female athlete defied her nation’s mandate by refusing to wear a hijab at an international competition over the weekend.
Elnaz Rekabi, a 33-year-old Iranian sport climber, was spotted competing on Sunday at the Asian Championships of the International Federation of Sport Climbing in Seoul without the Islamic headscarf. Iran has imposed a hijab requirement on women since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. When they are officially representing Iran outside of Iran, they must also follow the law there.
Iranian students say they will continue to demonstrate despite warnings and threats from the government.
Rekabi advanced to the Sunday’s final round of the annual Asian Championships, which lasted a full week. The Iran Mountaineering and Sport Climbing Federation published the outcome along with an undated photo of Rekabi donning a hijab on its website. On Monday, ABC News contacted Rekabi for comment; however, Rekabi did not respond, and calls to the Iran Mountaineering and Sport Climbing Federation went unanswered. However, the athlete “apologized for concerns” raised in Seoul on Tuesday by posting a statement in Farsi to her Instagram account and claiming the problem was “due to inappropriate timing.”
My hijab went wrong unintentionally because of finals sensitivity and an unexpected call to climb the wall, Rekabi said, adding that she is currently traveling back to Iran.
Sadaf Khadem, 27, was headless and sporting shorts when she became the first female Iranian boxer to triumph in an international match in 2019. Rekabi is thought to be one of the first Iranian female athletes to disobey the hijab requirement; a move that was widely praised by observers on social media as “historic,” “daring,” “courageous,” and “powerful.” After the competition, Khadem had planned to fly back to Tehran, but she was compelled to stay in France after it was reported that Iranian authorities had issued an arrest warrant for her for failing to adhere to the strictly enforced Islamic dress code. The morality police of Iran regularly detain women who don’t cover up in public.