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Elnaz Rekabi: An Iranian athlete’s family home was vandalized by officials, a media outlet says

Elnaz Rekabi: An Iranian athlete's family home was vandalized by officials, a media outlet says
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CNN

The family house of Iranian climbers Elnaz Rekabi was torn down after she rose to international prominence this fall for competing with her head uncovered, according to pro-reform news agency IranWire.

Rekabi competed without her hijab in South Korea in October, just as anti-regime protests swept Iran after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in morality police custody for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly.

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

Rekabi attended an international competition in Seoul in October without her mandatory hijab as anti-regime demonstrations demanding more rights for women rocked Iran.

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

The man filming the footage – whose identity is unknown – says offscreen: “This is the result of living in this country. A national champion with medals by the kilo for this country. Worked hard to make this country proud. They pepper sprayed him and demolished a 39 square meter house and left. What can I say?”

It is unclear when the demolition took place.

CNN cannot independently confirm whether the Rekabi family home was demolished by government order. Neither the authorities nor state-related media have commented publicly on the situation.

Rekabi received support from the public when she returned to Tehran in October.

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

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

Rekabi has hinted – both on her Instagram account and in interviews with state media IRNA – that she only “accidentally” ran without her hijab, which Iranian mandates of women representing the country abroad are required to wear.

However, it is unclear whether Rekabi’s statements were made under duress.

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