India chess star Soumya Swaminathan pulls out of event in Iran over compulsory-headscarf rule

India chess Grandmaster Soumya Swaminathan has withdrawn from the Asian Team Chess Championship, set to be held in Iran from 26 July to 4 August, over the compulsory-headscarf rule in the country.

Soumya Swaminathan. Image Courtesy: Facebook Soumya Swaminathan

Soumya Swaminathan. Image Courtesy: Facebook Soumya Swaminathan

Soumya took to Facebook to inform that she's won't participate in the event because of the headscarf rule which is violating her personal rights.

"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," she wrote.

She further wrote that: "I am very disappointed to see that player's rights and welfare are given such less importance while allotting and/or organising official championships. I understand the organisers expecting us to wear our National Team Dress or Formals or Sporting attire for our games during official championships, but surely there is no place for an enforceable religious dress code in Sports."

This is not the first time an Indian athlete has pulled out of an event over the compulsory-headscarf rule. In 2016, top Indian shooter Heena Sidhu did not participate in Asian Airgun meet in Iran citing the same reason. American chess player Nazi Paikidze also pulled out from the World Championship in Tehran, Iran, last year over the same issue.

Paikidze, similar to Soumya, posted in a social media account about her decision of travelling to Iran. "Some consider a hijab part of the culture. But, I know that a lot of Iranian women are bravely protesting this forced law daily and risking a lot by doing so. That’s why I will NOT wear a hijab and support women's oppression,” she said in her Instagram account.

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Updated Date: Jun 13, 2018 08:33:25 IST

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