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Iranian women compete in chess without a hijab


Chess - FIDE World Blitz and Fast Chess Championship - Women's Fast Chess - Almaty, Kazakhstan - December 28, 2022. Sara Khadem of Iran sits in front of a chessboard.

Chess – FIDE World Fast and Blitz Chess Championship – Women’s Fast – Almaty, Kazakhstan – December 28, 2022. Sara Khadem of Iran sits in front of the chessboard. REUTERS/Pavel Mikheyev

DUBAI—An Iranian chess player has entered an international tournament without a headscarf, according to media reports, the latest among several Iranian female athletes to appear at competitions without a headscarf since the anti-government protests began.

Iran has been caught up in protests against the country’s clerical leadership since mid-September, when a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini died in the custody of the ethics police, who detained her for “inappropriate attire”.

The Iranian news agencies Khabarvarzeshi and Etemad, in reports on Monday, said Sara Khadem competed at the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan, without a hijab – a headscarves are mandatory under Iran’s strict dress code.

The photos posted by both outlets seem to show her without a hijab during the tournament. Khabarvarzeshi also posted a photo of herself wearing a headscarf but did not say if it was taken at the same event.

There was no comment on Khadem’s Instagram page about the tournament or the reports, and she did not immediately respond to a direct message from Reuters.

Khadem, born in 1997 and also known as Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, is ranked 804 in the world, according to the International Chess Federation website. The website for the December 25-30 event listed her as a participant in both the Quick and Blitz competitions.

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Chess - FIDE World Blitz and Blitz Championships - Women's Fast Chess - Almaty, Kazakhstan - December 28, 2022. Sara Khadem of Iran (L) plays against Olga Girya of Russia.

Chess – FIDE World Fast and Blitz Chess Championship – Women’s Fast – Almaty, Kazakhstan – December 28, 2022. Sara Khadem of Iran (left) plays against Olga Girya of Russia. REUTERS/Pavel Mikheyev

The protests mark one of the boldest challenges to Iran’s leadership since the 1979 revolution and have drawn Iranians from all walks of life.

Women played a prominent role, removing and in some cases burning headscarves, while protesters took heart from what they saw as support for both Iranian male and female athletes.

In October, Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi competed in South Korea without a hijab, later saying she did so accidentally.

In November, an Iranian archer said she didn’t notice her hijab dropped during an awards ceremony in Tehran, after a video emerged showing her letting her hijab drop in where it was supposed to be. Many people think it is to show support for the protesters.

In comments reported by state media in November, Iran’s deputy sports minister, Maryam Kazemipour, said some Iranian female athletes had acted against Islamic norms and later apologized for the behavior. their movements.

Some national sports teams have ban singing the national anthem, notably before Iran’s opening match at the World Cup. The team sang before their second and third games.

Iranian authorities have cracked down on protests that they say are riots instigated by foreign opponents.

According to the activist’s news agency HRANA, 507 protesters had been killed as of Thursday, including 69 minors. 66 members of the security forces were also killed.

State officials said up to 300 people were killed, including members of the security forces.

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