Elnaz Rekabi: The Iranian climber who competed without a veil arrives in Tehran to applause and shouts of “champion” | International
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The plane that returned to Tehran the Iranian athlete Elnaz Rekabi, who on Sunday competed without a veil in the rope final of the Asian Climbing Championships in Seoul, landed this Wednesday at the Imam Khomeini International Airport before dawn, at half past three in the morning (five in the morning in Spanish peninsular time) but this did not dissuade dozens of people from coming to receive her with shouts of “champion”. As soon as she arrived, the athlete, whose gesture has been interpreted as a show of support for the protests in her country, reiterated in statements to the Iranian official media the confusing apologies that had already been broadcast through Instagram on Tuesday. Wearing the mandatory headscarf and cap, Rekabi insisted she entered the tournament bareheaded “by mistake”. The climber’s brother, Davood Rekabi, is missing after being summoned by officials from the Iranian intelligence services, according to the Iranian outlet in exile. Iranwire.
“Elnaz, champion!” Shouted to applause those who came to receive her when the 33-year-old climber appeared at the airport, where her family welcomed her with a long hug, according to the Efe agency. As soon as she landed, the athlete offered some statements to the Iranian official media in which she repeated the arguments broadcast the day before through her profile on her Instagram. “She was busy putting on my shoes and my kit, and that made me forget to put on my veil,” she told the state agency IRNA at the airport. In the Instagram text, she also alluded to “inadequate programming” and an alleged “untimely call” to compete to justify the absence of a veil.
“I return to Iran with a peaceful mind even though I feel a lot of stress and tension. But thank God, nothing has happened, ”Rekabi said, before getting into a white van that left the compound in the middle of a corridor made up of his followers.
On Tuesday, the family of the climber had denounced to the Persian service of the BBC network the impossibility of contacting her and that the country’s sports officials had confiscated Rekabi’s mobile phone and passport, after the athlete competed in the South Korean capital without the veil that the authorities of the Persian country impose on all its athletes even in competitions abroad.
According to iran wireAfter competing this Sunday, the climber agreed to enter her country’s embassy in Seoul due to a “misleading” promise from Reza Zarei, president of the country’s Climbing Federation, who assured her that if she returned to Iran, she would would guarantee your safety. The order to confine the athlete in the diplomatic headquarters and then transfer her to the airport in the South Korean capital for her immediate repatriation to Iran came, according to this source, from Mohammad Khosravivafa, president of the Iranian Olympic Committee, who in turn received instructions from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the parallel army that operates under the direct authority of the country’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Violating the strict Iranian dress code carries from fines to prison terms, for which it was feared that the athlete could be imprisoned if she returned to her country, especially since her gesture has been interpreted as a courageous show of support for the protests whose trigger was the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini. The 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman died on September 16, three days after being detained three days earlier in Tehran by the morality police, accused of wearing the veil incorrectly, which has been mandatory in Iran since April 1983. .
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The repression of these protests, which has already caused at least 215 deaths, including 27 children, according to the NGO Iran Human Rights, has not completely suffocated demonstrations that, without being massive, have lasted five weeks and that are starring, above all, by young people and women to the cry of “woman, life and freedom”. The protesters launch slogans against the Government and burn veils, one of the symbols of the oppression of women in a country that prohibits its citizens from traveling long distances without the company of a male relative, exercising power professions such as judge or president , and that considers that the testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man, to cite some of the discriminatory provisions endorsed by the country’s legislation.
In addition to those reportedly killed by Iranian security forces, there are thousands of detainees, including former soccer players, activists, lawyers, journalists and singers, some of whom have been released on bail.
Rekabi, who finished fourth in the climbing competition in Seoul, is one of the first Iranian athletes to dare to defy her country’s rigid dress code, which forces women to compete covered up, and the first to do so, at least known, since the beginning of the protests over the death of Mahsa Amini.
In April 2019, Sadaf Khadem was the first Iranian female boxer to take part in an official match held in France. She never returned to her country, alerted by SMS that the authorities in her country had issued an arrest warrant against her for having competed without a veil and dressed in shorts and a tank top. Khadem has lived since then as a political refugee in the Gallic country.
Strict gender segregation enforced by the country’s religious leaders prevents even female sports fans in Iran from attending sporting events where men are present, even if accompanied by a male relative. In 2014, Amnesty International reported, several Iranian women were beaten and insulted – some even ended up in jail – just for trying to attend a volleyball match in a stadium during the volleyball world cup held in Iran in June 2014. this year.
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