Nazi Paikidze and the Hijab protest in chess


Some of the world’s top female chess players are upset that the next world championship will be held in Iran, where players are expected to wear head scarves.

Hijab protestThe US women’s champion, Nazi Paikidze-Barnes, will not be taking part in the event in Tehran next February due to her concern over the issue.

Meanwhile former Pan American champion Carla Heredia — who did not qualify for the Tehran tournament — also called for the 64 women who are playing there to protest against the hijab rule.

“Iran has hosted chess tournaments before and women were always forced to wear a hijab,” Paikidze-Barnes told CNN. “We don’t see this event being any different, forced hijab is the country’s law.”

This, she said, is “religious and sexist discrimination.”

She added: “If the venue of the championship is not changed, I will not be participating. I am deeply upset by this. I feel privileged to have qualified to represent the US at the Women’s World Chess Championship and to not be able to due to religious, sexist, and political issues is very disappointing.”

Meanwhile Heredia, originally from Ecuador and now living in Texas, said: “This is not only about 64 players, this is a world issue, a women’s rights issue. That’s why I’m speaking up. Sports should be free of this type of discrimination.”
She said she hoped Iran would agree for women to play without hijabs without fear of punishment.

Islamic dress

Islamic codes of behavior and dress are strictly enforced in Iran. In public places, women must cover their heads with a headscarf.

Susan Polger, the chairman of FIDE’s Commission for Women’s Chess, has so far not received any complaints from players on the matter. However, she said, if complaints come in, the commission will handle them “professionally and diplomatically.”

Hijab protest 1
Why Iran?

Iran was the only country which made a proposal to host the event, a World Chess Federation (FIDE) spokeswoman told CNN in a statement.

She added that since there were no objections from any of the other 150 national chess federations — including the US — FIDE’s General Assembly accepted the proposal.

FIDE is “reviewing all possible solutions for the players’ comfort and will discuss all the issues with the organizers in Iran during meetings in the next few weeks,” said the spokeswoman, adding that the organization had so far not received any complaints from players competing.


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3 thoughts on “Nazi Paikidze and the Hijab protest in chess

  • October 18, 2016 at 10:19 pm
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    There is more than just honoring local customs. Some people’s religions prohibit them for wearing religious items related to other religions.

    Would it fair for Israel to ask everyone to wear a Star of David?

    Would it be fair for a Christian Country to ask everyone to wear a Cross?

    Also at issue is the requirement that men and women be in different rooms and not in the same room unless related.

    Thirdly, is the issue that many countries advice not traveling to Iran and will not ensure safety for their people traveling to Iran.

    Several of these items seem to violate FIDE protocols which guide its selection of choosing a host country.

    Fourthly, the event is a World Championship match, which means if a woman wishes to become a Champ she will have to attend or wait until the next round. This is different then a non Championship match, where there is less pressure to attend.

    Iran it self when traveling to France walked out of a meeting (Diplomatic Level) because there was wine in the room as per France custom. Iran did not honor the local custom and walked out, but now wants others to honor their local customs. Also if the head dress was such a non-issue as many proclaim, why then all the law suites and protests when some one is asked to remove theirs for national securities reasons. Here the visiting person refuses to honor the local custom and regulations.

    Lastly, and a big point in Nazi’s protest is did FIDE violate its own rules? What does this tell the other countries that made safe international areas as per FIDE regulations. Should Iran be given special privileges which they are not? And why is FIDE allowed to break its own rules?

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  • October 31, 2016 at 1:31 am
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