Iranian sports star breaks her silence after going missing following hijab controversy
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Iranian professional climber Elnaz Rekabi has broken her silence after not wearing a hijab during a recent competition and then reportedly going ‘missing’.
Rekabi ‘inadvertently’ began her climb without her traditional head-covering during the International Federation of Sport Climbing’s Asian Championship.
She had been praised for her defiance of Iran’s strict dress code, however, fears began to emerge when she couldn’t be contacted following the furore.
Infuriating: One day after competing without headscarf at Asian Climbing Competition, #Iran’s Elnaz Rekabi has gone missing, phone confiscated, @IranWireEnglish reports that she is being flown to Evin prison. Cruel doesn’t even begin to describe it: pic.twitter.com/HMkxh4n2lN— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) October 18, 2022
The BBC reported that the 33-year-old’s friends had feared she was being held against her will as a result of not wearing the hijab.
However, she finally broke her silence on Tuesday (October 18) to apologise for ‘getting everybody worried’.
She revealed she had been on her way home from Seoul.
Rekabi also explained that her hijab had accidentally come off during the competition, rather than being an act of defiance.
She explained: “Due to bad timing, and the unanticipated call for me to climb the wall, my head covering inadvertently came off.”
She added that she was on her way back to Iran ‘alongside the team based on the pre-arranged schedule’.
BBC Persian’s Rana Rahimpour reports that to many people the language used is cause for concern.
Elnaz Rekabi, the Iranian climber reported missing after not wearing a hijab, has just posted an update.— Jacob Whitehead (@jwhitey98) October 18, 2022
“I am sorry I made you worry about me. Due to mismanagement and the unpredictable situation at last minute my clothing was not appropriate. Now I am coming back to Iran.” pic.twitter.com/Zb72n0lFK0
Some believe the message has been posted under duress.
Previous Iranian athletes are said to have come under pressure to issue similar apologies, according to BBC.
The publication reports that a source claimed that Rekabi’s passport and mobile phone had been confiscated and that she had left Seoul two days before her scheduled departure date.
It is during this time that her friends and family had lost contact with her.
The International Federation of Sport Climbing says it had been in contact with the Iranian Climbing Federation in an attempt to clarify the facts.
They said: “It is important to stress that athletes' safety is paramount for us and we support any efforts to keep a valued member of our community safe in this situation.”
Adding: “The IFSC fully support the rights of athletes, their choices, and expression of free speech."
Featured Image Credit: Aflo Co. Ltd. / Alamy. Iran International English/Twitter.