Indian woman GM Soumya Swaminathan withdraws from chess tourney in Iran due to compulsory headscarf rule

Soumya Swaminathan

The Hush Post: Former world junior girls’ champion and Grandmaster Soumya Swaminathan said that she will not participate in the Asian Team Chess Championship, to be held in Hamadan, Iran.  The tournament is scheduled to take place from July 26 to August 4. She has pulled out of the tournament

The reason she has pulled out of the tournament is Iran’s “compulsory headscarf” rule which she says, is violative of her personal rights.Grandmaster Soumya Swaminathan
“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,” the 29-year-old chess Grandmaster said through her Facebook post.

Notably, in 2016, Indian shooter Heena Sidhu too had withdrawn from the Asian Airgun meet in Iran citing the same reason.

Soumya said that earlier she had given nod to be a part of the Indian team when the host country was to be Bangladesh and the dates were different.

“But once the new dates and new venue came up, I excused myself,” she added. When asked if the All India Chess Federation (AICF) should have protested against the decision to allot the tournament to Iran, Pune-girl Soumya said: “I can’t expect everyone to be of the same opinion as me. It’s a subjective issue.”

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