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17 Oct, 2022 16:25

Iranian climber ditches hijab in ‘act of defiance’ (VIDEO)

Elnaz Rekabi made the gesture following protests in her homeland
Iranian climber ditches hijab in ‘act of defiance’ (VIDEO)

Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi has made headlines by reportedly becoming only the second female athlete from her country to compete in public without wearing her traditional hijab headscarf.

The 33-year-old has gone viral for her act of defiance, with one clip showing her climbing a wall with her hair tied in a ponytail during an appearance at the International Federation of Sport Climbing Championships final on Sunday. 

Rekabi, an accomplished climber who has won over 80 medals in her career, finished fourth at the event in the South Korean capital.

But her statement comes amid weeks of protests in the conservative Persian country, which were triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of morality police for violating Islamic dress code.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, women have been required to wear a hijab in Iran.

Rekabi was praised on social media for her act, but concerns have been raised over possible repercussions she might face when she arrives home.

Though she was called “daring,” “courageous” and “powerful,” it has also been predicted that Rekabi could face prosecution.

An Iranian journalist, Sima Sabet, said Rekabi had made a “very powerful statement”.

“She might not be allowed to be part of the national team again, or [might] be punished, but she showed the world how an Iranian woman looks like,” Sabet added.

Rekabi is said to be only the second Iranian woman to compete in public without a head scarf after boxer Sadaf Khadem became the first in 2019.

Khadem also made history as the first Iranian woman to win a boxing match by beating Anne Chauvin in three rounds, but she decided to cancel her flight from France to the Irani capital Tehran after a warrant was reportedly issued for her arrest. 

The Iranian Boxing Federation distanced itself from Khadem’s match.

In a statement, it said that “as women's boxing is not a sanctioned sport of the Islamic Republic of Iran Boxing Federation, the organization, training, and participation in this sport is not related to this federation and it is the organizer and participant's responsibilities.”