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Indian Chess Star Soumya Swaminathan Refuses To Wear Headscarf, Withdraws From Iran Event

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Soumya Swaminathan has done the right thing, and should be applauded for her courage. And where are the feminists on this? They should be loudly proclaiming that this requirement of the Islamic Republic of Iran is nothing short of grotesque. Not only because forcing non-Muslim women to wear Islamic garb is an outrage, but because of Iran’s human rights record, and in particular, its brutal treatment of women, which is monstrous. Right now, all over Iran, women are risking imprisonment and torture and proclaiming their freedom by taking off the headscarf. Western feminists should be standing with them, and with Soumya Swaminathan. Instead, we hear not a word.

“Indian Chess Star Soumya Swaminathan Refuses To Wear Headscarf, Withdraws From Iran Event,” by Tanya Rudra, NDTV, June 13, 2018:

Woman Grandmaster and former world junior girls’ champion Soumya Swaminathan has refused to participate in the Asian Team Chess Championship, to be held in Hamadan, Iran, from July 26 to August 4, because of the compulsory-headscarf rule in the country which she said violated her personal rights. She took to her Facebook page to say, “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 not to go to Iran.” She further said that the religious dress codes should not be imposed on players.

“I understand the organisers expecting us to wear our National Team Dress or Formals or Sporting attire for our games during official championships, but surely there is no place for an enforceable religious dress code in Sports,” she added….

Here is what Soumya Swaminathan wrote on her Facebook page about her decision.

“I am very sorry to state that I have asked to be excused from the Indian Women’s team for the forthcoming Asian Nations Cup ( Asian Team ) Chess Championship 2018, to be held at Iran from 26 July – 4 Aug 2018, as I do not wish to be forced to wear a Headscarf or Burkha. 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 not to go to Iran.

I am very disappointed to see that player’s rights and welfare are given such less importance while allotting and/or organising official championships. I understand the organisers expecting us to wear our National Team Dress or Formals or Sporting attire for our games during official championships, but surely there is no place for an enforceable religious dress code in Sports.

It is a huge honour for me to represent India everytime I am selected in the National Team and I deeply regret that I will be unable to participate in such an important championship. While we sportspersons are willing to make several adjustments for the sake of our sport, always giving it top priority in our life, some things simply cannot be compromised.”…

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