Iran Clamps Down On Chess Champs For Playing Against An Israeli And For Not Wearing Hijab

Atous Pourkashiyan of Iran ponders a move during an international tournament. (GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/GettyImages)

According to a Radio Free Europe report, two Iranian chess players have been banned from playing tournaments for ‘violating’ the country’s laws. Siblings 18-year-old Dorsa Derakhshani and 15-year-old Borna Derakhashani have been banned from the National Chess Team as well as domestic chess tournaments - one for playing against an Israeli and the other for not wearing a hijab at the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival.

Iranian authorities forbid athletes from competing against Israelis in sporting events and the country’s laws decree that all women must wear the Islamic hijab. These laws are extended to Iranians considered to be ambassadors of their country such as sports players and other dignitaries. Earlier in 2016, an Iranian woman was disqualified from being sworn into parliament, after being elected, due to photos claiming to show her without a hijab.

It is because of such issues, multiple players have decided to boycott the Women's World Chess Championship 2017, which is set to be held in Tehran. In Iran, women can be detained by morality police if found wearing bright clothes, loose hijab or even make-up.

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Although Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was elected in 2013 on the hopes that he would ease some of these cultural restrictions, hardliners have blocked any relaxation of the Islamic Republic's social rules.

His 2014 comment "you can't send people to heaven by the whip," was not liked by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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