Iran’s climbing champion Elnas Rekabi took off the headscarf that is obligatory for Iranian athletes in the final of the Asian Championships in Seoul. Iranian media then reacted with outrage to the incident. “It remains to be seen how the Ministry of Sport will react to this action,” wrote the pro-government newspaper Hamshahri on Monday.
However, the 33-year-old athlete was celebrated by the Iranians on social media. “We are proud of you,” said one of the numerous reactions on Twitter. Rekabi finished fourth at the end of the competition.
Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iranian women have been required to wear headscarves and long jackets in public to hide their hair and body contours. This law also applies to all female athletes in the Islamic country, especially in competitions abroad.
Accordingly, Rekabi would have clearly violated the headscarf law. You are expected to be excluded from the national team. According to observers, her action in Seoul was also to be seen in connection with the ongoing women’s protests against compulsory headscarves in Iran, as a signal of her solidarity with the women’s movement.
The trigger for the protests was the still unsolved death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. The young woman was arrested by the moral police last month because her headscarf had slipped slightly and a few strands of hair were visible.