Concern Grows for Iranian Climber Elnaz Rekabi After She Competed in Seoul With out Hijab

SEOUL, South Korea — An Iranian feminine aggressive climber left South Korea on Tuesday after competing at an occasion during which she climbed with out her nation’s necessary headband masking, authorities mentioned. Farsi-language media exterior of Iran warned she could have been pressured to depart early by Iranian officers and will face arrest again residence, which Tehran rapidly denied.

Learn extra: Why Iranian Protesters Chant ‘Woman, Life, Liberty’

The choice by Elnaz Rekabi, a a number of medalist in competitions, to forgo the headband, or hijab, got here as protests sparked by the Sept. 16 dying in custody of a 22-year-old girl have entered a fifth week. Mahsa Amini was detained by the country’s morality police over her clothing.

The demonstrations, drawing school-age youngsters, oil staff and others to the road in over 100 cities, characterize the most-serious problem to Iran’s theocracy because the mass protests surrounding its disputed 2009 presidential election.

Learn extra: Here’s How to Support Protesters in Iran

Rekabi left Seoul on a Tuesday morning flight, the Iranian Embassy in South Korea mentioned. The BBC’s Persian service, which has in depth contacts inside Iran regardless of being banned from working there, quoted an unnamed “knowledgeable supply” who described Iranian officers as seizing each Rekabi’s cell phone and passport.

BBC Persian additionally mentioned she initially had been scheduled to return on Wednesday, however her flight apparently had been moved up unexpectedly.

IranWire, one other web site specializing in the nation based by Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari who once was detained by Iran, alleged that Rekabi could be instantly transferred to Tehran’s infamous Evin Jail after arriving within the nation. Evin Prison was the site of a massive fire this weekend that killed at the very least eight prisoners.

In a tweet, the Iranian Embassy in Seoul denied “all of the faux, false information and disinformation” concerning Rekabi’s departure on Tuesday. However as a substitute of posting a photograph of her from the Seoul competitors, it posted a picture of her carrying a headband at a earlier competitors in Moscow, the place she took a bronze medal.

Calls to the Iranian Embassy in Seoul rang unanswered Tuesday.

Rekabi didn’t placed on a hijab throughout Sunday’s last on the Worldwide Federation of Sport Climbing’s Asia Championship, based on the Seoul-based Korea Alpine Federation, the organizers of the occasion.

Federation officers mentioned Rekabi wore a hijab throughout her preliminary appearances on the one-week climbing occasion. She wore just a black headband when competing Sunday, her darkish hair pulled again in a ponytail; she had a white jersey with Iran’s flag as a brand on it.

Learn extra: Why Iran’s Leading Women’s Rights Defender Thinks the Protesters Could Topple the Regime

Rekabi was a member of Iran’s 11-member delegation, which contains of eight athletes and three coaches, to the occasion, based on the federation.

Federation officers mentioned they weren’t initially conscious of Rekabi competing with out the hijab however seemed into the case after receiving inquires about her. They mentioned the occasion doesn’t have any guidelines on requiring feminine athletes carrying or not carrying headscarves. Nevertheless, Iranian girls competing overseas beneath the Iranian flag all the time put on the hijab.

South Korea’s Justice Ministry refused to substantiate whether or not the Iranian athlete continues to be in South Korea or has left the nation, citing privacy-related laws. South Korea’s International Ministry mentioned it has no feedback on the problem.

Rekabi, 33, has completed on the rostrum thrice within the Asian Championships, taking one silver and two bronze medals for her efforts.

To this point, human rights teams estimate that over 200 folks have been killed within the protests and the violent safety pressure crackdown that adopted. Iran has not provided a dying toll in weeks. Demonstrations have been seen in over 100 cities, based on the group Human Rights Activists in Iran. 1000’s are believed to have been arrested.

Learn extra: The Iranian People’s 100-Year Struggle for Freedom

Gathering details about the demonstrations stays troublesome, nevertheless. Web entry has been disrupted for weeks by the Iranian authorities. In the meantime, authorities have detained at the very least 40 journalists, based on the Committee to Defend Journalists.

Iranian officers, together with Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has repeatedly alleged the nation’s international enemies are behind the continuing demonstrations, slightly than Iranians angered by Amini’s dying and the nation’s different woes.

Iranians have seen their life financial savings evaporate; the country’s currency, the rial, plummeted and Tehran’s nuclear cope with world powers has been diminished to tatters.

Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Related Press writers John Marshall in Phoenix and Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul contributed to this report.

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