Tehran: Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi, who competed in South Korea on Sunday without wearing a headscarf , has offered an apology, saying that she had competed without a hijab accidentally.
Early Tuesday, a text-only Instagram story was posted on 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.”
As of Tuesday morning, Rekabi and other athletes staying at the same hotel in Seoul had all checked out. Many social media users raised concern over the well-being of Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi.
Many took her public appearance without a headscarf or hijab as a sign of solidarity with the women-led protests that have raged in Iran for more weeks.
“This is an act of terror; forced confession -Elnaz Rekabi refused forced hijab while competing in Seoul; Her phone & passport was confiscated by the Islamic Republic; She has gone missing; Elnaz returned to Iran & announced: not wearing the hijab was not intentional,” tweeted Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist and activist.
Meanwhile, the Iranian embassy tweeted a photo of Ms Rekabi, with her head covered, and said she had departed the country. It dismissed reports of her going missing as “false news and disinformation.”
The Iranian Embassy in Seoul denied “all the fake, false news and disinformation” regarding Ms Rekabi’s departure on Tuesday.
But instead of posting a photo of her from the Seoul competition, it posted an image of her wearing a headscarf at a previous competition in Moscow, where she also won a bronze medal.
Iran has been rocked by massive anti-government demonstrations for more than a month. The most significant challenge to the Islamic Republic’s ruling regime in more than a decade was sparked by the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s morality police. Her family say she was tortured and killed after being arrested for alleged violations of the country’s strict dress code for women.
Human rights groups say Iran’s security forces have killed more than 200 protesters in a violent crackdown on the demonstrations.
(Except for the headline, the story has not been edited by Siasat staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)