Iranian woman competes without hijab at international chess tournament


An Iranian woman chess player participated in an international tournament on Monday without wearing the head covering, that Iran mandates for women. Sara Khadem, an International chess player from Iran competed at the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championship in Almaty, Kazakhstan without wearing the hijab. A hijab is a headscarf that is mandatory for women under Iran’s strict dress code.

This move by Sara comes amidst the ongoing chaos and demonstrations in Iran over the death of a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini who died in police custody and was detained for “inappropriate attire”.

Photos of Sara Khadem were posted from the event by the International Chess Federation along with other players, in which Sara was looking down at the chess board with her hair loose around her shoulders. Sara is the only Iranian woman participating in the tournament. 

According to the International Chess Federation website, Sara Khadem, also known as Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, is ranked 804 in the world ranking. Many people are looking at Sara’s move as a support to the anti-hijab women protestors in Iran. 

The open support against the Iran regime’s strict laws bolsters after the death of Mahsa Amini and many other prominent faces of Iran came out in support of anti-hijab protests. 

Watch | 100 days of anti-hijab protests in Iran 

In October, Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi competed in South Korea without a headscarf, later saying she had done so unintentionally.

In November, an Iranian archer said she did not notice her hijab falling during an awards ceremony in Tehran after a video appeared to show her allowing the headscarf to drop in what was also widely assumed to be a show of support for protesters.

Several national sports teams have refrained from singing the national anthem, notably before Iran’s opening match at the football World Cup. The team sang ahead of their second and third games.

Iranian authorities have cracked hard on the protests, which they see as riots which have foreign hands.  State officials have reported that up to 300 have been killed till now, including members of the security forces, but there are speculations that the number of protestors killed is much higher than 300. 

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