Iran’s Elnaz Rekabi, who competed without hijab, returns to Tehran after a 10-year absence
After 10 years, Elnaz Rekabi is back in Tehran, where she lived before 1979.
After being unable to return to Iran before 1979, after the Islamic revolution and the expulsion of the Shah, she was able to return in 2000, but was not allowed to live in Tehran proper.
She now lives in the capital and travels to cities around Iran. Her family and friends fear that she is now being targeted because she works in a news station owned by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Ahmadinejad’s TV station, Channel 2, has been broadcasting Elnaz Rekabi’s interviews, and the programme has become a way for Ahmadinejad to make fun of Iran.
“They (the authorities) know I am here, and they don’t like it, but they can’t do anything about it, because it’s not my fault, it’s the government’s fault that I am here,” she told the Guardian in a conversation that lasted more than two hours.
Although she has been interviewed and published in Iran’s national press, Elnaz Rekabi has lived in exile, away from her family.
She moved to Germany in December 1999 and started working for Germany’s public broadcaster, WDR.
She was living in a Berlin flat with her mother and father and three siblings, but the family were unable to visit her because they were not allowed to go to Germany at that time, she said.
“It was too dangerous here to be with my family. I lived in the East Berlin squat and that’s where my life changed, I got to travel more on a daily basis,” she said.
But Germany is also where she became familiar with the regime of the Shah, where she had family.
In Iran, she had to have documents proving she was her eldest daughter’s real mother, to obtain a residency permit, and she was banned from working and travelling abroad because she was seen as a foreigner.
“My mother was a political refugee, and in Iran they don’t know how to separate my father and me. And in Iran I can’t have a visa to