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Iranians Cheer Homecoming of Female Rock Climber Who Competed Without Hijab

HeadlineOct 20, 2022

In Iran, hundreds of people rallied at Tehran’s international airport Wednesday evening to cheer the return of Elnaz Rekabi, a female rock climber who drew international headlines when she joined a competition in South Korea without wearing a headscarf. On Sunday, the 33-year-old climber wore her hair in a ponytail, covered partially by a headband — in violation of Iran’s strict dress code — during a climb at the International Federation of Sport Climbing’s Asian Championships in Seoul. There were conflicting reports in Iranian media about whether Rekabi will now face arrest. She said in an interview with a state-run news agency Wednesday evening that she’d unintentionally forgotten to bring her hijab with her.

Elnaz Rekabi: “The struggle that I had with wearing my shoes and preparing my gear made me forget about the proper hijab that I should have had, and I went to the wall and ascended.”

Many of Rekabi’s supporters believe her statement was coerced. This comes as mass protests in Iran have entered their second month, sparked by the death last month of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran’s so-called morality police. After headlines, we’ll spend the rest of the hour with Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian activist and lawyer and winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize. 

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