Swaminathan Withdraws From Chess Championship In Iran Due to Mandatory Headscarf

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Woman chess player Soumya Swaminathan withdrew from the Asian Nations Cup Chess Championship to be held in Iran. Swaminathan made the decision after objecting to the country’s compulsory headscarf rule.

In a Facebook post, the chess player said, “I do not wish to be forced to wear a headscarf or burqa. 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. It seems that under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is to not go to Iran.”

The tournament will be held in Hamadan from the 26th of June to the 4th of August. The 29 year old player stated, “I understand the organizers expecting us to wear our national team dress or formals or sporting attire for our games during official championships, but surely there is no place for an enforceable religious dress code in Sports.”

Swaminathan said despite certain compromises made some things upon which just should not be compromised.

In 2016, Indian pistol shooter Heena Sidhu withdrew from the Asian Airgun Shooting Championship in Iran due to the compulsory hijab rule. In the same year, Georgian American chess champion Nazi Paikidze also boycotted a world championship in Tehran. Paikidze took to Instagram calling the law oppressive.

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