Conflicts: Concerns about Iranian athlete – Tehran denies arrest

People around the world are worried about the Iranian climber Elnas Rekabi, who caused a stir by taking off her headscarf in the final of the Asian Championships in Seoul.

Conflicts: Concerns about Iranian athlete – Tehran denies arrest

People around the world are worried about the Iranian climber Elnas Rekabi, who caused a stir by taking off her headscarf in the final of the Asian Championships in Seoul. The 33-year-old is said to be on her way back from South Korea to her home country - but her whereabouts were initially unclear on Tuesday. Earlier, Rekabi had been hailed for her action by Iranians, who see her action as solidarity with anti-system protests in Iran. Islamic clothing is mandatory for female athletes in the Iranian national team.

According to media reports, Rekabi's team left the hotel on Monday morning, but what happened to her is not known. According to reports on social media, Rekabi's passport and mobile phone were confiscated, and there was also talk of an arrest. The Iranian embassy in Seoul categorically denied these allegations. Rekabi and her team would fly back to Tehran as planned on Tuesday, it said.

Roads to the airport sealed off

On the night of Tuesday, numerous Iranians flocked to the capital's airport in Tehran to celebrate Rekabi as the new heroine of the women's protests. But the roads to the airport were sealed off and the police only allowed people with a valid flight ticket to continue their journey. This information has not yet been confirmed by the Iranian authorities. It was also unclear when Rekabi would return to Tehran.

In an Instagram story from an account attributed to Rekabi, the athlete apologized for not wearing a headscarf. "Due to an inappropriate timing and an unforeseeable call to climb" she unintentionally did not wear the headscarf, it said. "Currently, I'm on my way to Iran with the team, according to the previously agreed schedule." The Tasnim news agency, which acts as the mouthpiece for the Revolutionary Guards, also referred to their post. After her return, she wants to hold a press conference with her brother.

Pressure on activists at home and abroad

Observers interpreted the apology as a forced statement. The Iranian authorities regularly put pressure on activists at home and abroad. Similar apologies are also being broadcast on state television, which human rights groups have criticized as forced confessions.

A spokeswoman for the UN Human Rights Office said the UN had raised concerns with the authorities. "Women should never be persecuted because of their clothing. They should never be subjected to abuse such as arbitrary arrest or any form of violence because of their clothing. We will be following this case very closely."

The German government's human rights commissioner, Luise Amtsberg, wrote on Twitter: "Where is the Iranian athlete

Observers expect Rekabis to be excluded from the national team and be banned from leaving the country. Since the nationwide protests broke out in Iran in mid-September, several prominent athletes - including former soccer pros Ali Daei, Ali Karimi and Mehdi Mahdavikia - have criticized the system for suppressing women's protests and announced their solidarity with the demonstrators.

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