Iranian Climber Returns
Iranian professional climber Elnaz Rekabi returned to Tehran after participating in a competition in South Korea without wearing a legally required headscarf. The performance drew support from activists and condemnation from Iranian authorities; an Instagram post attributed to Rekabi claimed the removal was unintentional. Rekabi, 33, wore a black headband in her final event (see video) instead of the traditional head covering. After the event, friends of the athlete say they couldn't reach her, and sources claim Iranian officials in South Korea had taken her passport and phone. She apologized in a state-run TV interview upon arriving in Tehran Tuesday, claiming she had forgotten to wear the hijab while preparing for the event. Observers noted her language resembled similar apologies given under duress in the past. The incident escalated ongoing tensions in the country amid nationwide protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last month.