Woman Grandmaster and former world junior girls’ champion Soumya Swaminathan has pulled out of the Asian Team Chess Championship, to be held in Hamadan, Iran, from July 26 to August 4, calling the Islamic country’s “compulsory headscarf” rule violative of her personal rights.
Swaminathan took to Facebook to share her decision with the fans. She released a strongly-worded statement saying-
“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.”
She added that there is no place for ‘enforceable religious dress code’ in sports and said that despite many compromises a sportspersons make, some things can’t be compromised.
“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 every time 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 sports persons 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.”
The issue of sports persons either wearing or refusing to wear headscarves has repeatedly created controversies in the world of sports.
Many countries – like Iran – have made it mandatory even for women from other countries to wear them when they come calling.
In 2016, shooter Heena Sidhu too had refused to participate in the Asian Airgun Shooting Championship’ held in Iran over the same reason.
Check out how twitter is supporting her.
Bravo! Indian chess star Soumya Swaminathan refuses to wear a Hijab at a chess championship in Iran – Times of India https://t.co/J9XEcd1htX
— Tarek Fatah ਤਾਰੇਕ ਫਤਹ (@TarekFatah) June 13, 2018
In a world full of hypocrites and politically correct fakes, In a land that rewards servility in women, it takes a certain type to take a stance.
WGM Soumya Swaminathan,refuses headscarf, pulls out of Iran chess tournament . https://t.co/fiOTzVKjZd
— Kasturi Shankar (@KasthuriShankar) June 12, 2018
Bravo chess champ soumya swaminathan for refusing to go to human & womens rights abuser nation Iran..request secular press to wholeheartedly acknowledge this brave act by a brave girl
— venkatesh (@evenkatesh74) June 13, 2018
Soumya Swaminathan should be applauded. These Islamic fanatics impose their customs on others but themselves are ridiculously rigid. Will Rouhani don a kurta on his next trip to India? Hell no!
— Debarati Majumder (@debarati_m) June 13, 2018
Grand Master Soumya Swaminathan pulls out of Asian Chess Team Championship in Iran after ‘compulsory headscarf’ rule. This one decision is empowering women more than so called liberals, feminists and Bollywood actresses fake props. स्वतंत्र भारतीय नारी के इस साहसी फैसले को नमन
— हर्ष वर्धन त्रिपाठी (@harshvardhantri) June 13, 2018
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