Elnaz Rekabi: Iranian athlete’s family house destroyed by authorities, media claims


Family home of an Iranian rock climber Elnaz Rekabi was destroyed, according to the pro-reform newsletter IranWire, after she rose to international prominence this fall for competing with her head uncovered.

Rekabi competed without her hijab in South Korea in October, just as anti-regime protests swept Iran following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while being detained by morality police for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly.

Some Iranian demonstrators saw Rekabi as a symbol of the national uprising calling for more freedoms for women. However, human rights groups raised concerns for her safety when she returned to Tehran.

Footage obtained by CNN from IranWire shows a destroyed structure and medals on the ground. The man filming the video describes what happened to the house. The video also shows Rekabi’s brother, Dawood, crying. Dawood Rekabi himself is a sport climbing champion with ten gold medals to his name, according to IranWire.

The man filming the footage – whose identity has not been released – says off-camera: “This is the result of living in this country. Champion of the country with kilograms of medals for this country. I worked hard to make this country proud. They sprayed him with pepper and demolished a 39 square meter house and left. What can I say?”

It is not clear when the demolition took place.

CNN could not independently confirm whether Rekabi’s family home was destroyed on government orders. Neither the authorities nor state media have publicly commented on the situation.

Elnaz Rekabi: Iranian athlete’s family house destroyed by authorities, media claims

Footage of Rekabi wearing a headband with her hair in a ponytail while competing in Seoul went viral on social media and made international headlines. When she returned to Iran, videos posted on social media emerged showing her being greeted by crowds chanting “Elnaz the Hero” at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport.

The climber wrote later that week on her Instagram account: “I am infinitely grateful for the support of you, all the people of Iran, the most worthy people on the planet, athletes and non-athletes, and all your support in [the] international community.”

Rekabi suggested – both on her Instagram account and in interviews with state media IRNA – that she had only “accidentally” competed without her hijab, which Iran mandates be worn by women representing the country abroad.

However, it is not clear whether Rekabi’s comments were made under pressure.

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