The Hijab protest in chess

by ChessBase
10/7/2016 – Who is currently in the news, which chess player is dominating the headlines in the straight press? It is not Magnus, Nepo or Anish, but a 22-year-old US/Georgian IM who is boycotting the Women's World Championship in Tehran because of the requirement to wear a hijab of headscarf. Failure to do so in Iran can result in a fine or a prison term. This has unleashed a flurry of attention in the international press.

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The hijab is a veil traditionally worn by Muslim women in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family, which usually covers the head and chest. What a women's tournament with mandatory hijabs looks like can be seen in our Women's Grand Prix reports by Alina l'Ami from February this year (see also links at the bottom of that report).

International news media reports (selection)

Oct. 4 2016, Indian Express: Iran’s hijab law triggers scepticism among players before World Chess Championship
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.

Oct. 5 2016, Washington Times: Champion U.S. chess player protests Iran World Championship over hijab
Nazi Paikidze, the reigning U.S. women’s chess champion, is protesting next year’s World Chess Championship competition in Iran because women players will be required by law to wear a hijab. “I think it’s unacceptable to host a women’s World Championship in a place where women do not have basic fundamental rights and are treated as second-class citizens,” she wrote in an Instagram post over the weekend.

Oct. 5 2016, BBC: The 22-year-old chess star boycotting Iran World Championships over hijab
Nazi Paikidze-Barnes, a 22-year-old champion chess player, is boycotting next year's World Chess Championship competition in Iran. "I think it's unacceptable to host a women's World Championship in a place where women do not have basic fundamental rights and are treated as second-class citizens," she says. In Iran women are legally required to wear a hijab or headscarf. Nazi says she will not wear the hijab and "support oppression".

Oct. 5 2016: Calls for chess boycott over Iran's hijab laws
Calls for a boycott of next year's Women's World Chess Championship in Tehran, in protest at Iran's strict hijab laws, have prompted a big debate inside Iran in both the official and social media. At stake are two of the most current and contentious issues in Iran – equal participation for women in sport and increasing resistance among growing numbers of Iranian women to their country's compulsory Islamic dress code.

Oct. 5 2016, Washington Post: The American chess champion challenging Iran’s hijab fetish
Article by Asra Q. Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and a co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement; and Masih Alinejad, a journalist for the Voice of America Persian service and founder of My Stealthy Freedom, a campaign to oppose compulsory headscarves in Iran.

Oct. 6 2016, ABC News: America's Female Chess Champion Boycotts Iran Tournament Over Hijab Law
After learning that the 2017 Women's World Chess Championship would be held in Iran, America's top female chess player announced this week that she would boycott the tournament in the name of women's rights.

Oct. 6 2016, Fox News: Thousands sign US chess champ's petition to strip Iran of world championship over hijab law
Thousands of people have demanded that Iran be stripped of the right to host the women’s world chess championship because it will force players to compete in hijabs. At time of writing, 4,000 people had added their names to a petition by the reigning US women’s champion, Nazi Paikidze, who has said she would rather sacrifice her career than submit to Iran’s rules.

Oct. 6 2016, Washington Post: ‘I will NOT wear a hijab’
As one of the most successful women to ever play the male-dominated game of chess, Nazi Paikidze is used to having her moves watched closely. Her latest has drawn international attention: Paikidze announced last week that she will boycott February’s Women's World Chess Championship in Iran because the players will have to wear hijabs.

Oct. 6 2016, New York Post: US chess champ won't compete for world title if it means wearing a hijab
After years of playing with pawns and bishops, the reigning queen of US chess finds herself in the biggest stalemate of her career. The Russian-born star, who now lives in Las Vegas, told The Post she won’t budge unless FIDE — the world chess federation — moves the competition to a “no-conflict” zone or makes wearing the hijab optional.

Oct. 6 2016, Leon Watson in The Telgraph
The first woman to earn the title of chess Grandmaster has blocked more than 1,000 "trolls" on Twitter after becoming embroiled in the row over players being forced to wear hijabs. Susan Polgar, who chairs the governing body of the game's women’s committee, was besieged by angry users accusing her of failing to stand up for women's rights. The backlash followed widespread outrage at a decision by the sport's governing body to award the Women's World Championship to Iran and allow the strict Islamic regime to force female players to compete in hijabs.

ACP President Emil Sutovsky sent an inquiry to FIDE, as he reports on Twitter

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