Is Elnaz Rekabi missing? Safety concerns mount after Iranian climber competes without hijab

Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi was reported missing days after competing in the International Federation of Sport Climbing Asian Championships, held in South Korea on Sunday.

In a revolutionary move, the 33-year-old athlete climbed the wall without a hijab during the Seoul competition, flouting Iran’s law on women’s dress.

Sources close to Rekabi told BBC Persian that they have not been able to contact her since Monday evening. Her cell phone and passport were also with her allegedly absence.

The development comes amid ongoing women-led protests against the Iranian government over its strict laws requiring women to wear a hijab in public, according to The Telegraph.

While Rekabi and other Iranian athletes were due to return to Iran from Seoul on Wednesday, the 33-year-old reportedly flew back to Tehran after the competition.

While foreign media reported Rekabi missing, sources told IranWire that she was taken straight from Iran’s international airport to Evin prison in Tajrish.

Reza Zarei, the head of the Iran Climbing Federation, led the athlete into the Iranian embassy building in Seoul after receiving instructions from Mohammad Khosravivafa, chairman of Iran’s Olympic Committee, the outlet’s anonymous source said.

On orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Khosravivafa reportedly transferred Rekabi to the embassy after she assured her safe return to Iran, website Citizen Journalism reported.

“She also didn’t apply for asylum because her husband is in Iran and she wanted to return after the competition. She always makes such bold decisions,” the source told IranWire.

Meanwhile, BBC Persian TV presenter Rana Rahimpour tweeted on Tuesday that Rekabi was on a flight to Iran two days ahead of schedule, prompting growing concerns about Rekabi’s safety.

Iranian laws oblige women to follow the mandatory rule of wearing the hijab outside of Iran when officially representing the country in foreign nations.

The rock climber was seen climbing the wall with her hair bare during Sunday’s competition in Seoul. Her decision was seen as an act of solidarity with women protesting the moral policing of women’s clothing in Iran.

The women-led movement first shook the country in September after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Iran’s Morality Police custody. She was arrested for reportedly wearing the hijab in violation of Islamic law.

The movement has grown exponentially in Iran and other parts of the world, with women marching in the streets and taking off their headscarves to demonstrate their defiance of Iranian law.

Iran’s leadership has responded with unprecedented action against the protesters, with the country’s security forces firing tear gas and arresting protesters. It is estimated that at least 185 people, including 19 children, have been killed in the nationwide protests, The Guardian reported, citing the Norway-based Iran Human Rights Group.

Related Articles Is Elnaz Rekabi missing? Safety concerns mount after Iranian climber competes without hijab

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