Indian chess champ Soumya Swaminathan to boycott Iran event over hijab rule

Soumya Swamination, one of India’s top women chess players, has pulled out of the Asian Nations Chess Cup in Iran. She is doing this in protest at having to wear an Islamic headscarf.

Soumya, who is a former world junior girls champion, said the dress code at the event violated her rights.

She explained her reasons on Facebook.

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 not to go to Iran - Soumya Swamination

Since the Islamic revolution of 1979, Iran makes it mandatory for women to wear the Islamic headscarf in public places. Under Iranian law, women can only show their face, hands and feet in public and are supposed to wear only modest colours.

Soumya also criticized chess officials for allotting events to countries without taking players’ rights into account. She is ranked 97 among active women players in the world and is ranked fourth in India.

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