Iran's anti-hijab protests have found a hero in pro-climber, Elnaz Rekabi, after a video showed her competing in South Korea without wearing a hijab. The 4 am crowds at Tehran airport on October 19 to greet the athlete was proof enough that her actions (intentional or not) have won the hearts of the people. However, the world is now worried about Rekabi's safety.
What's the story? Iranian pro-climber Elnaz Rekabi created a stir by competing in the Asian Championships in South Korea without wearing a hijab or a headscarf.
Iranian female athletes have been required since 1979 to compete while wearing the mandatory hejab. As far as I know Elnaz Rekabi is the first to ignore this requirement. She got to the final round of the Asian Climbing Competitions, finishing in 4th place pic.twitter.com/hIVPgL8ytd— Karim Sadjadpour (@ksadjadpour) October 16, 2022
Where is Elnaz Rekabi now? Rekabi was reported "missing" by several Western media outlets after she "disappeared" from her hotel in South Korea.
VIDEO: Concern is growing for Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi after she competed in Seoul without a hijab— AFP News Agency (@AFP) October 19, 2022
The athlete later apologised and insisted the move, a breach of the Islamic republic's dress rules, wasn't a gesture of support for protests at homehttps://t.co/DqjXzSz6Zk pic.twitter.com/fvXmzjLkJT
Protests in Iran: 22-year-old Mahsa Amini's death under suspicious circumstances in September after her arrest by the moral police over her outfit and headscarf, has triggered widespread protests in Iran.
Another life claimed by Iranian regime.— Monica Verma (@TrulyMonica) October 17, 2022
16-year old Asra Panahi beaten up mercilessly for protesting against the Hijab in Ardebil, Iran. Internal injuries led to her death. pic.twitter.com/N2eipOJWc3
As for Elnaz Rekabi, it still remains unknown whether the athlete intentionally chose to not wear a headscarf during the championship or whether it was an accident. Her status also remains unknown.
The India connect: Hijab, a piece of clothing worn to cover the head by Muslim women, is at the centre of controversy not just in Iran, but also in India.
In either case, the government and society are busy telling women how to dress, dismissing their individual voices.