Iran’s hijab law triggers scepticism among players before World Chess Championship

Iran was chosen as the host country during the FIDE Congress in Baku last week after no other country bid to host the event.

Written by Mihir Vasavda | New Delhi | Updated: October 5, 2016 12:51 pm
world chess championship, world chess championship hijab, Iran women world chess championship, wearing hijab in public, hijab debate, Nazi Paikidze, sports news Humpy in Iran GP last February. (Source: FIDE)

In February next year Iran will host a rare international women’s event- the world chess championship. Though, the tournament is still four months away, the tournament has created a buzz around the world. There is skepticism, outrage and plain amusement over Iran’s insistence on all women, including visitors, wearing hijab in public. Failure would result in a fine or a prison term.

A day after Iran was awarded the championship, US champion Nazi Paikidze pulled out. Many may take her lead. Paikidze, the highest-ranked American, said she would ‘rather risk her career than be forced to wear a hijab.’ Indian Grandmaster Koneru Humpy, who has decided to compete, recalled how ‘uncomfortable’ it was during a Grand Prix in Iran earlier this year.

WATCH VIDEO: World Women Chess Championship Courts Controversy Due To Iran Hijab Rule

Iran was chosen as the host country during the FIDE Congress in Baku last week after no other country bid to host the event, according to the world governing body. England Grandmaster Nigel Short said it was understandable to wear headscarves if you’re visiting the country as a tourist, but called it ‘illegal’ to make sportspersons wear it during a competition. “The FIDE statutes and International Olympic Committee code of ethics are very clear on not allowing discrimination on sexual and religious matters. The obligation to wear a hijab exposes this,” he told The Indian Express over phone from Athens. “People from different background – Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, atheists – will be there. I don’t think they should be compelled to cover themselves in such a way in an international sporting event.” For the players, the problems lie beyond merely the cultural issues. Humpy, who had taken part in the Grand Prix held in Iran earlier this year, said the atmosphere was ‘slightly different’ and there were some distractions too when her scarf fell during a game. “I was very uncomfortable in the starting round. During one of the games, my headscarf came off and the arbiter came instantaneously and told me to wear it properly. It’s a distraction,” she said. “It was somewhat different from general atmosphere (at other events). But since it is allotted to them, there is nothing more to discuss. It’s up to the players whether they are interested (to go) or not.”

The strict dress code also took some time getting used to, especially for the players from the western countries. “You had to be covered till at least knee length. We are used to it, but for those from the West it was an issue,” Humpy said. Short added: “Most of the girls have men as coaches. So if they have to be in the same room to analyse their games, even that is not allowed.”

In a statement published on chess website, Chess Daily News, FIDE said they are ‘reviewing all possible solutions’. “At this point in time, there have been no official complaints to FIDE from any player who is eligible to participate in the Women’s World Championship 2017,” they said. “FIDE is nevertheless reviewing all possible solutions for the players’ comfort and will discuss all the issues with the organisers in Iran during meetings in the next few weeks.”

The chorus to move the championship is growing. But FIDE has stuck to its stand. “They could theoretically play in a room where they have only female arbiters, only female officials, no photographs and you play the world championship there. That is an option,” Short said. “But that won’t happen. So the event ought to be moved to another country.”

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    IslamForFools
    Oct 4, 2016 at 10:30 pm
    Organizers of this chess shud be shot. Dead for having this compeion in filthy Koranic Islamic country, thu
    Reply
    1. I
      IslamForFools
      Oct 4, 2016 at 10:57 pm
      They kill you for being kafir and you thinking about not being even abusive. Your mom has given birth to 6 kka through her Puci, cowards like you are the reasons why Islamic terrorism is flourishing, die coward die
      Reply
      1. K
        Kaliyug
        Oct 4, 2016 at 11:02 pm
        Iran is still the only Islamic country with an sizable number of college graduates, especially women. There are some perils for the head cover, I do not think it overall very repressive towards women like Shoddy Arabia and ISIS controlled areas in the Middle East. The civil laws and Islamic laws do crisscross,
        Reply
        1. K
          Kyle
          Oct 5, 2016 at 9:14 pm
          I don't understand why you would be accepting of this. Just because they only have one foot in the bronze age (as opposed to two like in the other countries you mentioned) doesn't mean they get a free p.
          Reply
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            joe
            Oct 5, 2016 at 1:40 am
            Iran must be a country where they cannot control their base pions. Their prophet had multiple wives, so they must be afraid of their own prophet's philosophy. Man is designed to have only one wife and so is the woman. When you live by a philosophy as crazy as multiple wives, then hare brained ideas of segregating women from men and covering them up in public comes about. Iranians must be scared about their fellow men letting loose their carnal desires on the very sight of a woman. I am very sure Iranian women would be suffering from a huge deficiency of vitamin D trying to prevent Iranian men from preying on them.
            Reply
            1. J
              joe
              Oct 5, 2016 at 1:30 am
              Since there is strict segregation of men and women, Iran must be the only country in the world where men give birth to men. Komeni did a man give birth to you or a woman? Does the Komeni have a mother?
              Reply
              1. S
                sam
                Oct 5, 2016 at 1:32 am
                It's bad enough there is not much entertainment out in Iran, like Bars or dancing clubs, now the Iran gvt is expecting (or rather forcing) visitors to coverup. It doesn't make sense.... how are you expecting to increase tourism with obligatory uniform???
                Reply
                1. S
                  Shyamal Ganguly
                  Oct 4, 2016 at 11:10 pm
                  I love being abusive. Abuse has the right time and place and I do get results.
                  Reply
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