India chess player pulls out of tournament in Iran over headscarf rule

by WorldTribune Staff, June 14, 2018

One of the top female chess players in India has withdrawn from the Asia Chess Championship in Iran over the Islamic Republic’s requirement that she wear a headscarf.

Soumya Swaminathan

Soumya Swaminathan, the No. 5 ranked female grandmaster in India, said the rule was a violation of her personal rights.

“Under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is not to go to Iran,” Swaminathan wrote in a Facebook post.

The tournament will be held next month in Iran.

Swaminathan wrote she was “disappointed to see that player’s rights and welfare are given such less importance while allotting and/or organizing official championships.”

She wrote that participants often make adjustments for the sake of sport, but “enforceable religious dress” should not be one of them, adding that “some things simply cannot be compromised.”

Swaminathan told local media that the tournament was originally scheduled to be held in Bangladesh. “But once the new dates and new venue came up, I excused myself,” she said.

When asked if the All India Chess Federation (AICF) should have protested against the decision to move the location, she told the Times of India: “I can’t expect everyone to be of the same opinion as me. It’s a subjective issue.”

U.S. chess player Nazi Paikidze refused to attend the Women’s World Championship in Iran in 2016. In an Instagram post, she wrote that it was “unacceptable” to hold the tournament in a place “where women do not have basic fundamental rights.”

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