Climber Who Competed Without Hijab Is Cheered on Return to Iran

Oct 20, 2022

The pictures seemed reassuring: Hundreds line the road at Tehran’s main airport, cheering and chanting Elnaz Rekabi’s name as the minibus carrying her slowly weaves through the jubilant crowd. “Hero, Elnaz!” cries the throng of men and women, young and old, gathered outside the terminal, their rhythmic and thundering claps echoing across a neon-lit forecourt.

The hero’s welcome in the early hours of Wednesday morning for Ms. Rekabi, an athlete who was a relatively obscure figure in the international sports climbing world until a few days ago, was documented in video footage that was widely circulated on social media and on Iranian news outlets.

Concern for Ms. Rekabi had flared after she made global headlines on Sunday for climbing at an international tournament without a hijab, defying Iran’s strictly enforced dress codes for female athletes. That action thrust her into the center of the protest movement in Iran, in which women have taken center stage in the antigovernment rallies.

Source: The New York Times