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On Sunday, Iranian rock climber Alanz Rakabi broke her country's strict dress code and competed without a hijab.
This is a clear act of defiance against the backdrop of weeks of massive protests in Iran following the death of a young woman arrested by the “vice police” for violating the Islamic dress code.
Raqabi, 33, became the second Iranian athlete to compete in a public competition bareheaded. In a video that went viral on social media, she competed in rock climbing with her hair tied up in the tail, during the finals of the Asian Championship of the International Climbing Federation. An athlete from Tehran took fourth place at the competitions held in Seoul.
Rakabi's actions drew widespread support and praise for his courage online. Concerns have also been raised about the consequences she is expected to face at home.
“A very strong statement. Maybe she shouldn't be part of the team again or she'll be punished, but she showed the world what an Iranian woman looks like, — Iranian journalist Seema Sabat wrote on Twitter.
Some commentators claimed that she would face trial in Iran.
In 2019, boxer Sadaf Khadem became the first Iranian woman to win a fight at the boxing ring, and the first to compete without a head covering. She canceled her flight back to Tehran after an arrest warrant was issued against her.
Iran has only recently opened the sport to women under provided they are led by a woman and compete wearing a hijab.
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