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‘Iranian law of compulsory headscarf direct violation of my human rights’: Chess star pulls out of Championship

Grandmaster Soumya Swaminathan, Indian chess star and former world junior girls’ champion has pulled out of the Asian Team Chess Championship to be held at Iran. Soumya has cited the Iranian law of a compulsory Hijab for women as a violation of her personal rights.

The Asian Team Championship is scheduled to be held at Iran from July 26 to August 4. Expressing her decision to withdraw from the said championship, Soumya took to Facebook to share her thoughts. She stated that she does not wish to be forced to wear a headscarf or Burkha. She added that the Iranian law is a direct violation of her basic human rights including her freedom of expression and right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Soumya Swaminathan

Soumya also added that she is very disappointed to see that a player’s rights and welfare are being given such less importance while organising official championships. She added that it is a huge honour for her to represent India but while she is willing to make adjustments for the sake of sport, some things cannot be compromised. She reiterated that there is no place for religious dress code in sports and that the only way to protect her rights is to not go to Iran.

Soumya’s decision has won support and admiration in social media.

Previously, Indian shooter Hina Sandhu had also pulled out of the Asian Airgun meet held in Iran in 2016 citing the same reason.

It is notable here that even Iranian women have been protesting against the compulsory headscarf law since months. In late December, the image of 31-year-old Iranian woman Vida Movahed became an iconic symbol of the movement when she took off her hijab and waved it, standing on the top of a pillar box. Since then, hundreds of Iranian women have taken to streets and been jailed, even vanished protesting against the Islamic law of a compulsory hijab for women. The Islamic regime in Iran has been cracking down ruthlessly on protestors.

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