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Iranian archer denies support for protests after hijab slips off at ceremony

Parmida Ghasemi apologizes for incident, says she has ‘no problem’ with headscarf; followers fear statement was coerced

Iranian archer Parmida Ghasemi after she descends from the stage at a ceremony in Tehran, Iran, November 11, 2022. (YouTube screenshot, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Iranian archer Parmida Ghasemi after she descends from the stage at a ceremony in Tehran, Iran, November 11, 2022. (YouTube screenshot, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

An Iranian archer denied on Saturday that she had shown solidarity with  nationwide anti-regime protests when her hijab fell from her head at an awards ceremony in Tehran, claiming the covering had slipped due to “wind and a lot of stress.”

Donning a headscarf, Parmida Ghasemi posted a video statement on her Instagram account emphasizing she had not been aware that her hijab, which is mandatory in Iran, had slipped off. She apologized for the incident.

“This led to reactions that caused some misunderstandings. My family and I have not, nor have ever had, any problem with the hijab. I wanted to apologize to the people, officials and my teammates,” she said.

After initially praising Ghasemi for what they assumed to be an act of defiance against the Islamic Republic, many Iranians online suspected her statement had been forced by the authorities.

Since September Tehran’s theocratic regime has struggled to contain protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini.

Amini, 22, died last month after being arrested by the country’s notorious “morality police” for allegedly not properly covering her hair.

Female protesters have taken to the streets, burning their headscarves and cutting their hair in protest of the mandatory head-covering laws.

The Oslo-based Iran Human Rights group has said that at least 326 people, including 43 children and 25 women, have died in the bloody crackdown on the demonstrations.

There have been several alleged acts of solidarity with demonstrators by Iranian athletes since the unrest began.

After Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi competed last month in South Korea without wearing a headscarf, she was reportedly placed under house arrest and forced to make an apology, according to BBC Persian, which cited an “informed source.”

Last Monday, Iranian beach soccer player Saeed Piramoun was hailed as a hero on social media when he made a clear scissor-like gesture above his head with his fingers to mimic cutting his hair, according to several videos.

Without naming Piramoun, Iran’s football federation said in a statement that it would discipline all those deemed to have failed to keep politics out of the field of play.

Earlier in October, top Tehran football club Esteghlal refused to celebrate after winning the Iranian Super Cup, with its footballer Siavash Yazdani in a post-match interview dedicating the victory to “women and those who lost loved ones.”

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