Friday, March 22, 2019

Indian chess star says no to headscarf, pulls out of Iran event

  • News Desk,
    Published: 2018-06-13 13:58:16 BdST


Woman Grandmaster Soumya Swaminathan has pulled out of the Asian Team Chess Championship, to be held in Iran from July 26 to August 4, calling the Islamic country’s “compulsory headscarf” rule a violation of 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,” the 29-year-old posted on her Facebook account adding the only way for her to protect her rights under present circumstances is to not go to Iran.

Earlier, in 2016, top Indian shooter Heena Sidhu had withdrawn from the Asian Airgun meet in Iran citing the same reason, the Times of India reported.

Soumya said the event was to be hosted in Bangladesh on different dates when she first agreed to be a part of the Indian team. “But once the new dates and new venue came up, I excused myself,” she added.

“I can’t expect everyone to be of the same opinion as me. It’s subjective issue,” the Pune girl who is India No. 5 and world No. 97 among women in chess told Times of India when asked if the All India Chess Federation AICF should have protested against the decision to allot the tournament to Iran.

However, Soumya blasted the officialdom in her Facebook message writing she is very disappointed to see that player’s rights and welfare are given little importance while allotting and/or organising official championships.

Among other chess players, Ukraine’s Muzhychuk sisters, Anna and Mariya, have been vocal about human rights and gender equality and have refused to play premier tournaments in Saudi Arabia.

The champion team from the Iran event will qualify for the World Team Chess Championship.

Iran is also scheduled to host the open Asian Team championship concurrently.