Two famous Iranian chess players, Atousa Pourkashiyan, 37, and Sara Khadem, 25, refused to wear the veil on the opening day of the World Chess Championships in Kazakhstan on Monday, reports HuffPost.

A gesture anything but trivial and which has already had serious consequences for Iranian sportswomen who have done so in the past.

Sara Khadem & Atousa Pourkashian from Iran refused to wear mandatory hijab in the FIDE World #RapidBlitz .

Sara is playing under the flag of Islamic regime and protesting against it.

#Chess #hijab #WomanLifeFreedom

— Shohreh Bayat (@ShohrehBayat) December 26, 2022

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Indeed, since Iran became an Islamic Republic in 1979, Iranian women who represent their country must wear the hijab.

But, since the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, on September 16, numerous demonstrations have taken place in the country around the obligation to wear the hijab, and some women have not hesitated to burn their veils or to go out without.

This protest movement, violently repressed, resulted in the death of at least 122 people.

Fear of retaliation

Before Atousa Pourkashiyan and Sara Khadem, climber Elnaz Rekabi had already decided, a few months ago, to take part in the Asian climbing championships without a veil.

As a result, according to his brother, the authorities came to destroy his family home.

Many Internet users on Twitter have therefore expressed their concerns about the safety of the two chess players, who could also be the subject of reprisals from the authorities.

However, only Sara Khadem, 38th in the world ranking, is currently competing for Iran.

Atousa Pourkashiyan represents the United States.

In the sports history of Iran, other chess players had already appeared without the veil.

This was the case in 2017 of Dorsa Derakhshani, who had been excluded from the Iranian national team after coming without a veil to a competition in Gibraltar.

Same treatment for Mitra Hejazipour in 2019, excluded by the Iranian Federation after removing her veil during the Worlds in Moscow.

The young woman now lives in Paris where she is studying engineering.


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