A female chess player has withdrawn in protest from the Asian Chess Championship — scheduled to take place July 26 to August 4 — because of the Iran’s, the host nation, mandatory headscarf (hijab) law. Soumya Swaminathan, a top contender from India, stated,

After the 1979 revolution, Iran then known as the Islamic Republic passed a law that made headscarves for women mandatory. By 1983 the law was in full effect. Many women have been prosecuted under the law for protesting it by removing their headscarf in public recently. At the beginning of 2018, Iran saw nationwide anti-regime protests; women were holding their headscarves in the air while standing in busy streets around Tehran. Masih Alinejad, an exiled journalist from Iran, is conducting a Facebook campaign titled “My Stealthy Freedom” for the protests. Thousands of Iranian women have posted photos of them removing their headscarves in public places.

Female politicians and diplomats from western valued nations have come under ridicule in the past for neglecting to don the headscarf while in Iran. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and many high-ranking officials within the regime have condemned the anti-hijab activists on multiple occasions, insisting that the acts of defiance undermine Islamic modesty and promotes a lifestyle that has no place in Iran.

Women are restricted from entering sports arenas or events in Iran and the feminist activist movements in the nation have begun targeting that as well. Last April several women disguised as men, wearing men’s clothes while sporting fake beards and wigs, entered the Azadi Stadium in Tehran to attend a football match; they posted photos of the act on social media. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani admitted that he believes the stadium ban should be lifted.

Photo courtesy of Soumya Swaminathan via Facebook

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