Iranian rock climber arrives back in Tehran after competing without hijab
By Raffaella Panaccione
29 June 2018
Iran’s first female climber to compete without a traditional hijab was reunited this week with her guide at the Iran-Iraq border. Neda Agha Soltan was competing in Dubai at the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation’s (ICMIF) Global Climbing Competition this week when she was attacked in the airport. The attack occurred after Neda and her guide had crossed the border into Iran.
The 23-year-old Iranian national, now 31, had already climbed at World Outdoor Festival (WOWF) and won three gold medals, including the men’s competition climbing category with a performance time of 1:51.50 minutes, second-fastest time in the world. Soltan and her guide were returning from WOWF after having won the World Championships in Italy in 2009, when other Iranian women were not allowed to compete, in part because of the cultural taboo against women in headscarves and hijabs.
Neda Aghd Soltan (left) of Iran, center, and her guide, Nusrat Jahanbez, with the gold medal of the IC3-4 event at the 2006 World Outdoor Festival – Iran
Sultan Sood Hossein, who was present during the attack and tried to help, explained the following on how the attack happened this week.
“We arrived in Tehran last Sunday night. [Neda] and her guide took a taxi from the airport to our office in Tehran,” Hossein said Thursday, according to the Tasnim news agency. “When we got to our office, Neda told me that she and her guide were attacked. She had her hijab covering her head. I took pictures with my phone.”
Neda’s father, Mohammad Soltan, told Al-Monitor, “Neda is one of the best climbers in Iran. She has an excellent character and is very bright. She had been training for 3-4 months in preparation for international competitions. She is a talented female athlete and was excited about participating in the competition in Dubai.”
The Iranian climber and her guide have been detained two weeks in Tehran pending investigation. Neda Soltan has been hospitalized, and police have imposed a curfew until she has been released.
Sultan Hossein told