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Human Rights

Iranian female climber competes without hijab in defiance of regime

Women have been required to cover their heads since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, including abroad when they represent Iran.

October 17, 2022 2:00pm

Updated: October 17, 2022 2:07pm

An Iranian finalist at the Asian Climbing Competitions competed without hijab on Sunday, signaling her solidarity with anti-hijab protesters back in her home country.

Elnaz Rekabi, a 33-year-old Iranian climber, competed in the women’s finals in Seoul, South Korea with uncovered hair pulled back into a ponytail – a flagrant violation of the Iranian regime’s requirement that all women wear hijab.

The mandate, put into effect after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, also requires hijab of women outside Iran if they when they are representing the country abroad.

The athlete has not commented publicly since, but the move is widely interpreted as support for the large-scale protests sweeping across Iran since September, when a 22-year-old girl died in police custody for allegedly wearing her headscarf too loosely. Police have denied she was mistreated in custody.

The regime has responded to the demonstrations, attended by women with heads uncovered shouting anti-government slogans, with brutal crackdowns and an internet blackout.

At least 185 people and 19 children have been killed during protesters’ clashes with police, according to a human rights group earlier this month.

Rekabi, who took fourth place, is one of the first Iranian female athletes to disobey the hijab requirement.

Sadaf Khanem, a 27-year-old female Iranian boxer, was denied entry into Iran after she fought overseas in 2019 while bare-headed and wearing shorts, according to ABC News.

The Iranian won bronze in boulder climbing at the same competition last year and has won more than 80 medals over the course of her career, reports Iran International.