An Indian chess star has decided to pull out of an international championship event in Iran in protest against having to wear an Islamic headscarf.
Former world junior girls champion Soumya Swaminathan condemned the dress code at the upcoming Asian Nations Chess Cup as a violation of her human rights.
The 29-year-old chess grandmaster made the announcement via a Facebook post on Saturday.
“I find the Iranian law of compulsory headscarf to be in direct violation of my basic human rights including my right to freedom of expression, and right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion,” Swaminathan wrote. “It seems that under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is not to go to Iran.”
Iran has required women to wear the Islamic headscarf in public places since the Islamic revolution of 1979. Women have since been allowed to only show their face, hands, and feet in public under Iranian law. They are also only allowed to wear “modest colors.”
Such a policy enforced through the Asian Nations Chess Cup has resulted in similar issues involving international chess players in the past.
Back in 2016, United States chess champion Nazi Paikidze-Barnes also refused to wear the hijab, resulting in her boycotting the world championship in Tehran.
Meanwhile, Iranian chess Grandmaster Dorsa Derakhshani was banned by the Iranian Chess Federation in 2017 after attending international competitions abroad without wearing the headscarf. Derakhshani has been representing the U.S. ever since.
Swaminathan’s decision to sacrifice an important tournament has been met with universal praise online.
BRAVERY! Let us support this move to assert her intellectual freedom & challenge the narrow-minded ideologies trying to reduce women to obedient robots. https://t.co/FornA6O7ot
— Rajiv Malhotra (@RajivMessage) June 13, 2018
Bravo! Indian chess star Soumya Swaminathan refuses to wear a Hijab at a chess championship in Iran – Times of India https://t.co/J9XEcd1htX
— Tarek Fatah ਤਾਰੇਕ ਫਤਹ (@TarekFatah) June 13, 2018
Indian chess star Soumya Swaminathan says no to #Hjab. Pulls out of Asian Team Chess Championship to be held in Hamadan, Iran.
Religious dress codes should not be imposed on players. Period.
— Farah Khan (@FaraaahKhan) June 13, 2018
If you are a great professional and a strong woman/man, you don’t need to play victim or do drama. You do your job, and calmly make a statement.
Indian chess champ Soumya Swaminathan says no to headscarf, pulls out of Iran event.
Take a bow, Soumya.https://t.co/EIE9CuQCsj
— Abhijit Majumder (@abhijitmajumder) June 13, 2018
In a world full of hypocrites and politically correct fakes, In a land that rewards servility in women, it takes a certain type to take a stance.
WGM Soumya Swaminathan,refuses headscarf, pulls out of Iran chess tournament . https://t.co/fiOTzVKjZd
— Kasturi Shankar (@KasthuriShankar) June 12, 2018
Featured Image via Facebook / Soumya Swaminathan