A champion chess player and grandmaster from India has backed out of an upcoming tournament in Iran over concerns surrounding the compulsory hijab. Soumya Swaminathan made the announcement in a post on Facebook that has since gone viral and drawn widespread support on social media.
In the post, Swaminathan said she wouldn’t attend the Asian Nations Cup taking place in late July and early August. She wrote, “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.” The 29-year-old champ added, “It seems that under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is not to go to Iran.”
According to the BBC, Swaminathan said the tournament was originally supposed to take place in Bangladesh, not Iran. “But once the new dates and new venue came up, I excused myself,” she said. in her Facebook post, she also noted that chess players often make some wardrobe concessions when appearing in tournaments — such as a team shirt. “But surely there is no place for an enforceable religious dress code in sports,” she said. Swaminathan is ranked No. 5 among chess players in India and is being praised for taking a tough stance on the compulsory headscarf rule, as a sampling of tweet demonstrates.
If you are a great professional and a strong woman/man, you don’t need to play victim or do drama. You do your job, and calmly make a statement.
Indian chess champ Soumya Swaminathan says no to headscarf, pulls out of Iran event.
Take a bow, Soumya.https://t.co/EIE9CuQCsj
— Abhijit Majumder (@abhijitmajumder) June 13, 2018
Good for chess star Soumya Swaminathan to assert her individual rights on wearing headscarf. Hope she'll similarly assert her individual rights when told what to wear, eat, read, write, post on social media, or told to prove her "nationalism" by Indian govt #soumyaswaminathan
— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) June 13, 2018
— Smita Barooah (@smitabarooah) June 13, 2018
Read the full story at the BBC.