4 Dec 2022

Elnaz Rekabi: Family home of Iranian climber demolished

11:35 am on 4 December 2022
This image grab from footage obtained from Iranian State agency IRNA on October 19, 2022 shows Elnaz Rekabi, an Iranian climber who caused a sensation by competing at an event abroad without a hijab, giving an interview upon her arrival at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran. - Rekabi was given a hero's welcome on her return to Tehran by supporters who raucously applauded her action. With Iran still shaken by women-led protests over the death of Mahsa Amini one month ago, Elnaz Rekabi flew back to a Tehran airport after the competition in South Korea. (Photo by IRNA / AFP) / Israel OUT - NO Resale / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO /IRNA" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS  /NO RESALE/ NO ACCESS ISRAEL MEDIA/PERSIAN LANGUAGE TV STATIONS/ OUTSIDE IRAN/ STRICTLY NO ACCESS BBC PERSIAN/ VOA PERSIAN/...

An image grab from footage obtained from Iranian State agency IRNA on October 19, 2022 shows Elnaz Rekabi giving an interview after her arrival at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran. Photo: AFP / HO /IRNA

The family villa of Elnaz Rekabi - an Iranian climber who competed abroad with her hair uncovered - has reportedly been demolished.

Rekabi, 33, broke Iran's mandatory dress code at the contest in South Korea - but later said her headscarf had fallen off "inadvertently".

The BBC was told her apology was forced.

Opposition to the headscarf has fuelled protests that have swept Iran, with the climber being hailed as a hero.

A video showing the ruins of a house with sports medals on the ground started circulating this week.

Davood - Elnaz Rekabi's brother and also a top athlete - is seen crying in the video.

Anti-government activists denounced it as an act of revenge against Rekabi - although it is not clear when the footage was shot.

Now, the semi-official Tasnim news agency has confirmed that the house has been demolished, but said this was due to the family not having a valid permit for its construction.

It said all this took place before Rekabi competed without a headscarf in October.

A handout picture provided by the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) shows Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi competing during the women boulder finals of the Asian Championships of the IFSC in Seoul, South Korea.

Elnaz Rekabi competing in South Korea in October. Photo: AFP / International Federation of Sport Climbing / Rhea Kang

Women in Iran are required to cover their hair with a headscarf, or hijab, and their arms and legs with loose clothing. Female athletes must also abide by the dress code when they are officially representing Iran in competitions abroad.

A large crowd greeted Rekabi at Tehran airport after the competition in South Korea, calling her a "heroine". She arrived at the airport without a headscarf, covering her hair with a black baseball cap and hoodie.

The next day she met the Iranian sports minister with the same clothes on, which raised suspicion that she had not been home during that time.

The source said Rekabi was detained in a room at Iran's National Olympic Committee building with plainclothes agents present until she met the minister.

The day before returning to Iran, a post on Rekabi's Instagram account apologised for "getting everybody worried".

"Due to bad timing, and the unanticipated call for me to climb the wall, my head covering inadvertently came off," it explained.

However, the source said that authorities threatened to take her family's property if she did not make the statement.


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