Indian Chess Champion Pulls Out of Competition in Iran Because of Country’s Mandatory Headscarf Rule

An Indian chess champion has decided to pull out of a tournament in Iran in protest over that country’s compulsory headscarf rule, saying it is a violation of her human rights.

Soumya Swaminathan, 29, announced on Facebook she will not take part in the Asian Chess Championship starting next month in Hamadan, Iran, “as I do not wish to be forced to wear a Headscarf of Burkha.”

“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 in the post. “It seems that under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is not to go to Iran.”

The woman grandmaster and former world junior girls’ champ added she was disappointed that international federations do not give enough importance to players’ rights and welfare when picking venues for major championships. While organizers expect players to wear national team dresses or sporting attire for the games, “there is no place for an enforceable religious dress code in Sports,” she said.

“While we sportspersons are willing to make several adjustments for the sake of our sport, always giving it top priority in our life, some things simply cannot be compromised.”

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SOURCE: CNN, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Sreoshi Mukherjee