Tough move

Chess champion pulls out of tournament over ‘enforceable religious dress code’

Chess grandmaster Soumya Swaminathan. (Facebook).

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.”

Chess grandmaster Soumya Swaminathan in the middle of a game. (Facebook)

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.

Read the full story at the BBC.

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