Indian Chess Grandmaster Sowmya Swaminathan has announced that she will be not represent India at the Asian Chess Championship to be held in Iran next month, reports ANI. In a Facebook post, she said that she wouldn’t be part of the meet due to Iran mandating that all women wear a hijab or headscarf as it went against her personal rights.
Swaminathan is the second Indian sportsperson to pull out of an event in Iran over the headscarf rule after shooter Heena Sindhu who had done so in 2016.
American chess player Nazi Paikidze too had withdrawn from an event in Iran last year over the issue.
The hijab has always been a traditional part of Iranian clothing, but was primarily optional till 1936 when the then Shah Reza Shah banned it in public, allowed the police to physically take it off women who wore it in public. Under his son Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the ban was lifted.
Post the revolution, the Islamic Republic made it mandatory in 1980.