Indian chess star refuses to wear head-scarves in Iran, pulls out of event

Rishabh Gupta
|Published June 13, 2018

Iran will host the Asian Team Chess Championship.

India’s Chess Grandmaster and former Junior Girls’ world champion Soumya Swaminathan has pulled out of the Asian Team Chess Championship in Iran. She took the decision owing to the compulsory head-scarves ruling for women, which Swaminathan considers a violation to her personal rights.

I do not wish to be forced to wear a headscarf or burqa. 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 to not go to Iran,” Swaminathan wrote on her facebook.

Swaminathan insisted that the players’ rights are not given importance.

“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.”

Earlier, Indian shooter Heena Siddhu was also pulled out of the Airgun event in Iran, citing similar issue.

Soumya Swaminathan said that she initially gave the nod for participating in the event as it was being held in Bangladesh. She told the Times of India, ““Once the new dates and new venue came up, I excused myself.”

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Rishabh Gupta

Rishabh Gupta

A sports enthusiast. Sports, I believe, is one of the few powers which help us grow, both as an individual and society. With each day, in the rich world of sports, I grow.

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