Iranian athlete who competed without hijab issues apology as worry grows

Published on Oct 19, 2022 07:39 AM IST

The decision by Elnaz Rekabi, a multiple medalist in competitions, to forgo the hijab came as protests sparked by the September 16 death in custody of a 22-year-old woman have entered the fifth week.

Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi competing at an international tournament without hijab.
Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi competing at an international tournament without hijab.

Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi, who broke Iran’s Islamic laws by competing at an international tournament without hijab, issued an apology on Tuesday as she was on her way back to Tehran.

Rekabi issued an apology from her unverified Instagram account @elnaz.rekabi via a text-only Instagram story, news agencies reported. The apology was posted in her native language that loosely translated to: "Due to inappropriate timing, and an unpredictable call for me to climb the wall, there was accidentally a problem with my head cover," the post says. It also said Rekabi was flying back to Iran "according to the pre-arranged schedule." Later Tuesday, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry acknowledged that the Iranian athlete and her team had left the country, without elaborating.

Elnaz Rekabi officially represented the Islamic Republic without wearing a hijab - mandatory for all Iranian female athletes since 1979, at the Asian climbing championships in the South Korean capital on October 16.

Videos of Rekabi scaling an indoor wall, with her ponytail out and aloft, went viral on Twitter and other social media platforms.

The decision by Elnaz Rekabi, a multiple medalist in competitions, to forgo the hijab came as protests sparked by the September 16 death in custody of a 22-year-old woman have entered the fifth week. Mahsa Amini was detained by the country's morality police over her clothing.

With inputs from news agencies

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    A journalist with 4+ years of experience in digital and broadcast media, Ishika Yadav covers Indian Politics, World News and Human Interest pieces for Hindustan Times.

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