World’s top female chess players threaten to boycott next year’s World Championship in Iran, after being told they must wear an Islamic headbag if they wish to participate.

The 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.


CNN  (h/t Maurice)  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.”


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.


But seriously, what can you expect from a country of 7th Century throwbacks who believe that Iranian women dressing in Western attire are “causing the rivers to run dry and earthquakes to increase.”

RT  (h/t therezam) Iran’s senior cleric criticized what he perceived as women’s overly liberal choices of clothing “as if they were in Europe,” and accused the trend of being behind one of Iran’s rivers drying up.


“My office has received photos of women next to the dry Zayandeh-rud River [the largest river in central Iran] pictured as if they are in Europe. It is these sorts of acts that cause the river to dry up even further,” ISNA News Agency cited cleric Seyyed Youssef Tabatabi-nejad as saying.

He then called on the Communications Ministry to ramp up its tactics on bringing to justice the “networks” that encourage immodesty in Iran’s women. “If you don’t do so, then you will have failed to carry out your duty. The Communications Ministry can discover and suffocate these individuals,” he went on.

When President Mahmoud Ahmadinedjad warned in 2010 that an earthquake was coming, 12 million people were advised to relocate, another Iranian Mullah, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, then said: “Many women who do not dress modestly increases earthquakes.”