Iran government criticises skater who performed without hijab

Niloufar Mardani becomes second athlete to compete abroad without headscarf

Niloufar Mardani a member of the national speedskating team, competed in Istanbul without a headscarf on Sunday. Photo: Twitter
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Iran's government has criticised a female skater who performed without a headscarf at a competition in Turkey at the weekend.

Niloufar Mardani, a member of the national speedskating team, competed in Istanbul on Sunday.

She was filmed receiving a first-place award, without wearing a hijab ― a requirement Tehran has placed on its female athletes even when abroad ― or black clothing featuring the word "Iran."

Iran's sports ministry has said she is no longer part of the national team and claimed she had not received permission to compete.

The ministry "condemned" Mardani's lack of "approved clothing," it said in a statement shared by Fars news agency, claiming the skater was on a "personal trip" and has not been a part of the national team since October.

It follows a similar move by climber Elnaz Rekabi, who competed without a headscarf in South Korea last month.

Concern grew for Rekabi, who was widely praised for her bravery, after reports emerged she had gone missing and would be arrested upon return to Iran. She was also seemingly forced to apologise for not wearing a headscarf, which she said was a mistake.

She received a hero's welcome upon her return to Tehran, where authorities said they would not punish her.

Other athletes have made gestures of solidarity with protesters, refusing to sing the national anthem.

Protests erupted across Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini in custody of the morality police on September 16. The demonstrations have posed the biggest challenge to the regime in decades.

Demonstrations in support of the protests have taken place across the world.

Human rights groups say more than 200 people, including 40 children, have been killed in Iran in the weeks since her death.

Many more have been arrested, including the journalists who first broke the news of Amini's death.

A total of 1,024 indictments have been issued against "rioters", spokesman Masoud Satayshi on Tuesday.

Indictments have previously been issued for “congregating and colluding with the intention of acting against the country's security”, “propaganda against the system” and “disturbing public order."

The judiciary's Mizan news website has shared details of trials against protesters, which have been denounced as sham hearings.

The parents of slain protesters have also been detained by security forces and prevented from mourning their children in symbolic 40-day ceremonies, many of which have turned into rallies themselves.

Mounted police have also been deployed to quash the demonstrations, AFP reported.

Special cavalry units have been stationed in Tehran, according to verified video footage.

Updated: November 08, 2022, 12:16 PM