Current US Women’s Chess Champion Nazí Paikidze has spoken out against the place of the 2017 FIDE Women’s World Chess Championship. The event is set to be held in Iran, and during previous chess events in the country, such as this year’s Grand Prix, the female players were forced to where the cultural headcovering called a hijab.
Calls for boycotts of the women’s world chess championship are quickly mounting.
I like how Paikidze summarized her perspective, so I’m quoting it here, courtesy of The Telegraph:
It is absolutely unacceptable to host one of the most important women’s tournaments in a venue where, to this day, women are forced to cover up with a hijab. I understand and respect cultural differences. But, failing to comply can lead to imprisonment and women’s rights are being severely restricted in general.
I agree with respecting cultural differences, but forcing the women to wear the hijab is insensitive for the same reason. Perhaps FIDE will work with the nation to allow the female participants to play without the head garb, but I wonder if some women would still avoid the event given that they are still required by law to wear it in public. I’ve never been to the country, so I’m not sure how strictly that law is enforced for tourists and foreigners, but you could understand if some women didn’t want to chance it.
This story seems to have a pretty big footprint in the news right now, so I would expect an update in the near future, after FIDE has a chance to converse with diplomats and officials.