CHESS- Woman Grandmaster Soumya Swaminathan has decided not to represent India at the Asian Team Chess championship to be held in Iran from July 26 to August 4 because of a rule that makes it mandatory for women to wear hijab.
In a lengthy Facebook post, the 29-year-old explained, “I do not wish to be forced to wear a headscarf or burqa. 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. It seems that under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is to not go to Iran.”
When asked whether the All India Chess Federation should have protested after Iran was selected as the host, Soumya said, “I can’t expect everyone to be of the same opinion as me. It’s subjective issue.”
Swaminathan is not first player to walk out of such tournaments. In 2016, India’s star shooter Heena Sidhu had withdrawn from a competition to be held in Iran citing the same rule.