Ernaz Rekhabi: Concerns rise over Iranian rock climber who competed without hijab

Concerns about the health of Iranian rock climber Ernaz Rekhabi have risen after he competed in an event in South Korea without a hijab.

Her bold move has been described as a sign of solidarity with women-led protests in Iran.

The 33-year-old apologized on Instagram for causing “concern,” claiming her appearance without Islamic clothing was “unintentional.”

She finished fourth for Iran in the combined boulder and lead event at the Asian Championships in Seoul.

In the first event of the competition, her head was covered with a bandana.

This violates the Islamic Republic’s mandated requirement for women to wear headscarves, which applies to female athletes at competitions abroad as well.

The gesture came a month before protests in Iran over the death of Martha Amini, who was arrested by Tehran police on suspicion of violating dress rules. The protests have morphed into movements against the mandatory hijab and the Islamic Republic itself.

Supporters of the protests have described Rekavi as a “hero” and chanted the protest slogan “Women. Life. Freedom.” No contact was made.

“First of all, I would like to apologize for all the concerns I have caused,” said Rekavi’s statement. rice field.

“I am currently on my way back to Iran with my team based on a pre-scheduled schedule.”

There are unconfirmed reports that Iranian officials pressured Rekavi to issue a statement.

Citing unnamed sources, BBC Persian said friends were unable to reach her and the team left a Seoul hotel on Monday, earlier than Wednesday’s scheduled departure.

Her mobile phone and passport are said to have been taken from her. Meanwhile, news site Iran Wire reported that the president of the Iranian Mountaineering Federation “tricked” her into entering the Iranian embassy in Seoul, after which she was taken to the airport.

The federal secretary promised safe passage to Iran if she handed over her cell phone and passport, he said.

However, the Iranian embassy in Seoul issued a statement to AFP denying “all fakes, false news and disinformation” about her situation, adding that Rekhabi left South Korea with her teammates on Tuesday. rice field.

A spokesman for the UN office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ravina Shamdasani said the UN was “aware” of the incident and concerns had been raised with the Iranian authorities.

“Women should not be prosecuted for what they wear. They should not be subjected to violations such as arbitrary detention or any kind of violence related to dress,” she said in Geneva.

“We will be following this case very closely.”

Rekhabi believes she is the second Iranian woman to compete in a match in France without a headscarf, after boxer Sadaf Kadem appeared bareheaded at a match in 2019. It is Kadem did not return to Iran and she is now in exile in France.

Sport has become a highly sensitive field during the protests, with several prominent Iranian female athletes expressing support for women’s rights.

with AFP

first published as Iranian rock climber Ernaz Rekhabi disappears after competing without hijab

Ernaz Rekhabi: Concerns rise over Iranian rock climber who competed without hijab

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