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Iranian Climber Elnaz Rekabi Resurfaces in Tehran, but Concerns Remain

Elanz Rekabi at Tehran airport(Screen capture/Islamic Republic News Agency)
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Elnaz Rekabi competed on Sunday in South Korea without the hijab headwear mandated by her government. She then disappeared amid reports that her cellphone and passport had been confiscated.

Concerns grew over the week after 33-year-old Iranian rock climber Elnaz Rekabi offered no public response to widespread news questioning her whereabouts and safety. But according to BBC, she arrived in Tehran early this morning.

Rekabi last week competed in South Korea without her hijab, a move many saw as a signal of solidarity for the wave of women’s rights protests happening across Iran. The protests sparked this month after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini’s mysterious death while in police custody for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly.

Upon Rekabi’s return to Tehran, Twitter erupted with posts that show an apparent hero’s welcome, the pre-dawn crowd chanting her name.

Shortly after, Rekabi claimed in an interview with state media IRNA that competing without the hijab was “unintentional,’ and her seemingly hurried travel dates were planned.

According to CNN, Rekabi also made these statements on her social media, but GearJunkie could not substantiate these original posts as of this writing.

As of this writing, there are no conflicting reports about her return to Tehran early this morning. But many are still concerned for her safety, including the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC), the governing body for the Asian Championships in which Rekabi was competing.

The IFSC made an official statement today that the involved governing bodies assured them of Rekabi’s safety and that the athlete made phone contact.

But the IFSC ended the communication with, “[T]he IFSC, in close coordination with the IOC, the Iranian National Olympic Committee, and the IMSCF (Iran Mountaineering and Sport Climbing Federation) will continue monitoring the situation and will wait for her to return to the IFSC circuit of events at the beginning of the 2023 season.” According to IranWire, some observers speculate her social media posts and airport interview statements were forced.

elnaz rekabi

Climber Elnaz Rekabi Disappears After Defying Iran’s Hijab Law at IFSC Asia Comp

The 33-year-old Iranian’s passport and mobile phone have been confiscated, and her whereabouts are unknown, according to reports. Read more…

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