A chess player from Iran has been banned from competing in domestic tournaments because she appeared at a competition without a headscarf, violating the country’s strict Islamic dress code.
According to Radio Free Europe, 18-year-old Dorsa Derakhshani opted against covering her hair at the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival earlier this year. She was not an official representative of Iran — the event is open to independent attendees — but the Iranian Chess Federation has nevertheless prohibited her from competing in national tournaments, and from joining the national team.
“Unfortunately, what shouldn’t have happened has happened,” said Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh, the head of the organization. “Our national interests have priority over everything.”
The same punishment was meted out to Derakhshani’s 15-year-old brother Borna Derakhshani, because he competed against an Israeli player at the same festival. Iran does not recognize the state of Israel, and forbids its competitors from facing off against Israeli rivals at sporting events.
According to the My Stealthy Freedom Facebook page, the Iranian Chess Federation said it sought to punish the siblings in the “severest way possible.”
This is not the first time that Iran’s chess community has become embroiled in a controversy over women’s head coverings. Last year, American chess champion Nazi Paikidze-Barnes refused to participate in the Women’s World Championship in Iran because doing so would require her to wear a hijab. Complying with Iran’s obligatory dress code, she said, would “support women’s oppression.”
Read the full story at Radio Free Europe.