Chess community outraged after players asked to wear ‘hijab’ in Iran tournament392 views
A number of top women chess players have come at loggerheads with the Federation Internationale des Echecs (FIDE), with regards to the venue of the 2017 Women’s Chess World Cup, set to be held in Tehran, Iran, next year.
The main point of the stand-off between the two parties is the fact that Iran imposes a number of strict laws, which many believe are restrictive of women. A direct effect of these laws is that all the participants have been asked to wear a hijab (or a scarf on their heads), during the matches.
A number of bigwigs from the fraternity of the sport have voiced their concerns over the women’s rights issues, that the decision to host the championship in Iran, may bring up.
US Women’s Chess champion Nazi Paikidze expressed her frustration at not being able to compete in her tournament.
“It is absolutely unacceptable to host one of the most important women’s tournaments in a venue where, to this day, women are forced to cover up with a hijab,” she was quoted as saying in ‘The Daily Telegraph’.
“I understand and respect cultural differences. But, failing to comply can lead to imprisonment and women’s rights are being severely restricted in general.
“It does not feel safe for women from around the world to play here,” she added.
— Nazi Paikidze-Barnes (@NaziPaiki) September 29, 2016
England men’s champion Nigel also spoke out against the decision to host the tournament in Iran. He Tweeted, saying that the FIDE was going against its own anti-discrimination statutes.
2017 Women’s Wrld Ch. awarded to Iran. Women forced to wear the Islamic hijab, flouting FIDE statutes against sex & religious discrimination
— Nigel Short (@nigelshortchess) September 27, 2016
On the flip side, the FIDE Commission for Women’s Chess (WOM) has defended the decision to host the tournament in Iran, saying that all players need to respect the “cultural differences”.
Hungarian GM Susan Polgar also came out in defence of WOM, according to The Daily Telegraph. However, she clarified her former statement during an interview with CNN, saying that her words were taken out of context. She went on to state that while she personally would not have any problem in wearing a scarf in Iran, she encouraged any player who has a problem with adhering to this rule, to take the issue up with the authorities concerned.
“I have never addressed or defended this issue. I was simply addressing if “I” have a problem wearing a hijab during this chess event, and personally, I do not. I also encouraged anyone who has a problem with it to let WOM or FIDE know. I was not speaking for other women, WOM, or FIDE. No player has officially contacted me about this so far.