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Iranian athlete goes 'missing' after competing without her mandatory headscarf

Iranian athlete goes 'missing' after competing without her mandatory headscarf

Elnaz Rekabi has vanished after defying authorities and their strict modesty laws in the wake of slain 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

Iranian rock climber Elnaz Rekabi has reportedly vanished after ditching her headscarf while competing in an event.

The champion climber has not been seen or heard from since Sunday (October 16), The Jerusalem Post reports.

The athlete made the bold move to directly disobey Iran's mandatory hijab regulations while she competed at the International Federation of Sport Climbing's Asian Championships in South Korea over the weekend.

She came fourth overall in the competition but was praised for making a stand against her government, with some on social media dubbing her action as 'inspiring'.

BBC Persia says the Iranian climbing team left their hotel on Monday morning, which was two days earlier than planned.

An 'informed source' has told the outlet that 'Ms. Rakabi's passport and mobile phone were taken from her'.

The champion Iranian rock climber is thought to be one of the first female athletes to compete while intentionally contravening Iran's strict modesty laws, as per the ABC.

Rekabi spoke to Euronews in 2016 about wearing the hijab during competitions.

"At the beginning it was a little bizarre for the other athletes, who were curious about a girl wearing a scarf on her head and an outfit that covered the arms and legs whilst competing inside in such a hot temperature," she said.

"For sure when it's hot the hijab becomes a problem.

"During competition your body needs to evacuate the heat."

She added: "But we have tried to create an outfit ourselves that respects the hijab and is compatible with practising the sport of climbing."

Rekabi's disappearance comes as deadly protests rage across Iran over state restrictions on women's freedoms.

The champion rock climber went missing as protests entered their fifth week in the Middle Eastern nation in the wake of Masha Amini's death.

The 22-year-old was arrested after she allegedly violated the country's strictly enforced dress code by wearing her headscarf too loosely.

It has been obligatory for women to cover their heads since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, and morality police said she wore her headscarf – or hijab – too loosely.

The death of Mahsa Amini has sparked protests across Iran and beyond.
ZUMA Press Inc/ Alamy Live News

Amini collapsed and spent three days in a coma after being detained by police in Tehran.

Iranian police say Amini died of a heart attack, though her family believe she was severely mistreated.

Independent experts linked to the United Nations (UN) say reports suggested she was badly beaten after being detained.

Since then, thousands of women have been taking to the streets, cutting their hair off and burning their headscarves in protest over Amini's treatment.

Featured Image Credit: elnaz.rekabi/Instagram.

Topics: Iran, World News, Politics, News