An Indian chess champion announced she will not be participating in a tournament in Iran, as the country’s law requiring women to wear headscarves is a violation of her human rights, she said.
Soumya Swaminathan, a 29-year-old grandmaster, wrote on Facebook, “It seems that under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is not to go to Iran.”
Swaminathan was scheduled to be part of the Indian team in the Asian Team Chess Competition, taking place in Hamadan, Iran, from July 26 to Aug. 4.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are two countries that by law require women to wear headscarves in public, although the practice is common in fellow Muslim-majority nations.
In February, Iranian police arrested 29 people following a series of protests in which women removed their headscarves in public.
Swaminathan is not the only female grandmaster to find herself in opposition to Iran’s laws. In October, Iranian national Dorsa Derakhshani was barred from playing in the country, or for the national team, after she played in a tournament in Gibraltar earlier that year without donning the headscarf.
Derakhshani later moved to the United States and joined the U.S. national team.
“It feels good and … peaceful to play for a federation where I am welcomed and supported,” Derakhshani said.
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