Crowd greet Iranian climber who broke hijab rule on return while Elnaz apologizes


Tehran: The Iranian competitive climber Elnaz Rekabi has received a jubilant welcome on her return to Tehran, after competing in South Korea without wearing a headscarf as required of female athletes from the Islamic Republic.

Video shared online showed large crowds gathered early on Wednesday at Imam Khomeini international airport outside Tehran. The videos showed crowds chanting the 33-year-old Rekabi’s name and calling her a hero.

The furore over Rekabi competing on Sunday without a hijab came as protests sparked by the death in custody on 16 September of a 22-year-old woman entered a fifth week. Mahsa Amini was detained by the country’s morality police over her clothing and her death has led to women removing their mandatory hijabs in public.

The demonstrations represent the most-serious challenge to Iran’s theocracy since the mass protests surrounding its disputed 2009 presidential election.

Friends and supporters raised concerns over Rekabi’s safety after she competed without the hijab.

Elnaz has offered an apology, saying that she had competed without a hijab accidentally.

Early Tuesday, a text-only Instagram story was posted on Ms Rekabi’s account that said, “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,” and apologized for the “concerns created.”


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