Iranian sports official fired after foreign athlete competes in Tehran without hijab

Country’s Deaf Sports Federation chief insists event took place with no men present, says he doesn’t know how photo was uploaded online

Iranian athletes compete at 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, Thursday, September 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
Iranian athletes compete at 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, Thursday, September 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s sports minister has fired the country’s Deaf Sports Federation chief after pictures emerged of a foreign woman athlete competing at an international sporting event held in Iran without a compulsory headscarf, local media said.

Mehran Tishehgaran was removed from his position “due to events that happened in the Asian Deaf Athletics Championships,” the ISNA news agency reported late Monday.

Sports Minister Kioumars Hashemi named Alireza Khosravi to replace Tishehgaran, it said.

Iranian media has in recent days published images of a woman wearing shorts and a tight tank top at the Sunday-Monday tournament in Tehran.

Tishehgaran said men and women did not mix during the competition.

“Only women were present in that area and the security officials collected all the cameras and mobile phones,” he said in an interview with the Fars news agency.

Tishehgaran added that images of the athlete were taken by her team from Kazakhstan.

Covering the neck and head has been compulsory for all women in Iran — even foreigners — since shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iranian women shop at the Tajrish bazaar in northern Tehran on August 16, 2023. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

In May, the head of Iran’s athletics federation resigned following a sporting event that included women without the mandatory hijab in the southern city of Shiraz.

Women have been increasingly flouting the strict dress code since months-long demonstrations erupted in September last year following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, in custody.

Amini had been arrested for allegedly breaching the dress code.

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