Iranian athlete disappears after competing without hijab

i24NEWS

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Iran's Elnaz Rekabi competes in the Women's Lead qualification at the indoor World Climbing and Paraclimbing Championships 2016 in Paris, France, on September 14, 2016.
MIGUEL MEDINA / AFPIran's Elnaz Rekabi competes in the Women's Lead qualification at the indoor World Climbing and Paraclimbing Championships 2016 in Paris, France, on September 14, 2016.

Elnaz Rekabi's friends say they've been unable to contact her since Sunday night

Iranian rock climber Elnaz Rekabi, who competed in the Asian Climbing Championships in South Korea without a compulsory headscarf (hijab) in support of mass protests across Iran, has reportedly disappeared.

Rekabi's friends told the BBC’s Persian service that they have been unable to contact her since Sunday evening. The Iranian embassy in Seoul tweeted that the athlete returned home on Tuesday morning along with the rest of the team. 

“The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in South Korea strongly denies all the fake, false news and disinformation regarding Ms. Elnaz Rekabi,” the embassy wrote. 

https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1582207684128165888

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Rekabi is the second female athlete to openly disobey Iran's strict hijab laws since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Last year she also became the first Iranian woman to win a medal (bronze) at the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) World Championships.

A video showing Rekabi climbing a wall with her hair uncovered and tied back in a ponytail during the recent championship went viral amid ongoing mass protests in Iran sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police for allegedly violating the dress code last month. Female protesters across the country and the world have recorded videos showing them burning their headscarves and cutting their hair.

https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1582271439780319232

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More than 40 human rights organizations denounced Iran's deadly crackdown on demonstrators and called on the UN to urgently intervene. Earlier on Monday, the European Union sanctioned Iran's morality police and the Revolutionary Guards Corps over the repression of the protests. 

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