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Politics

IranWire Exclusive: Athlete Who Competed Without Hijab Will be Jailed

October 18, 2022
Payam Younesipour,  
Akhtar Safi
2 min read
IranWire Exclusive: Athlete Who Competed Without Hijab Will be Jailed

A female Iranian athlete who did not wear a hijab at an international competition will be directly transferred to Evin prison from the airport, IranWire can reveal.

Elnaz Rekabi was without a hijab when she entered the final Asian climbing competition in the South Korean capital Seoul on Sunday.

Reza Zarei, the head of Iran's Climbing Federation, tricked her into the Iranian embassy building in Seoul after he received orders from Mohammad Khosravivafa, Iran's Olympic Committee chairman, a source told IranWire.  

Khosravivafa received orders from Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). He moved her into the embassy after promising Rekabi safe travel to Iran.

"Elnaz made her decision to appear without a hijab around a month ago and knew that she was going to compete without the mandatory hijab," A source told IranWire. "She did not seek asylum either because her husband is in Iran, and she wanted to return after the competition. She always makes such bold decisions."

The team was supposed to get back to Iran, but suddenly they changed her plans," the source added.

Reza Zarei, who was previously a member of the Ministry of Information, promised Elnaz that if she handed over her passport and mobile phone, he would take her to Iran quickly, without risk and without making it public.

IranWire sources at Imam Khomeini international airport said Elnaz would be transferred directly from the airport to Evin Prison.

IranWire source said that if Elnaz Rokabi surrendered herself to the embassy of the Islamic Republic, she would have no way to escape: "We know what the embassies of the Islamic Republic do. They will take her directly to the airport and return her to Iran."

Elnaz's early return prevents people from gathering outside the airport: "People think that Elnaz will return with the team on Wednesday, but she is supposed to be returned to Iran a day earlier. We hope she can rescue herself at Seoul airport."

Elnaz was representing Iran. Hijab is also mandatory for Iranian women in sports competitions. For the past month, people in Iran have been protesting against the hijab after the death of a young woman who was allegedly not wearing a hijab. 

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, women have been required to wear a hijab in Iran. They must also abide by the mandatory rule outside Iran when officially representing the country abroad.

Rekabi got to the final round of the weeklong annual Asian Championships and finished in fourth place on Sunday.

A video of her participating in climbing without a hijab went viral on social media.

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