Top female chess players are threatening to boycott the world championships in Iran after officials announced that the women must wear hijabs in order to compete.
According to Daily Mail, female chess players will risk arrest if they do not comply with orders to wear hijabs when the Middle Eastern country hosts the chess tournament next year. The World Chess Federation, known by its French acronym Fide, has since been accused of not defending women’s rights after telling players to accept the laws and respect “cultural differences.”
US women’s champion Nazi Paikidze is one of the players who is threatening to boycott the event.
“It is absolutely unacceptable to host one of the most important women’s tournaments in a venue where, to this day, women are forced to cover up with a hijab,” Paikidze said. “I understand and respect cultural differences. But, failing to comply can lead to imprisonment and women’s rights are being severely restricted in general. It does not feel safe for women from around the world to play here.”
“If the situation remains unchanged, I will most certainly not participate in this event,” she added.
Former Pan American champion Carla Heredia, from Ecuador, agreed with Paikidze.
“No institution, no government, nor a Women’s World Chess Championship should force women to wear or to take out a hijab,” she said. “This violates all what sports means. Sport should be free of discrimination by sex, religion and sexual orientation.”
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