Consider signing the chess/hijab petition

This morning I encouraged readers to sign Nazí Paikidze-Barnes‘s petition against FIDE, the World Chess Federation, for setting its Women’s World Championship in Iran, requiring all women players to wear the hijab. At the time there were 803 signatories and a goal of 1000. As of a few minutes ago, the signatories have almost exactly doubled in number, and the goal has risen. I know that many of the readers here have signed, because I get an email when they do and mention me.  But I’m sure many others have signed without mentioning me; so thank you to all of you.

I wouldn’t urge people to consider signing if I didn’t think this petition might have an influence on FIDE; most petitions probably accomplish nothing. But what we have here is a petition about a small tournament that has much bigger potential to change policy towards religious osculation, and to give the progressive women of Iran the support they need to throw off the shackles of their second-class status. So, if you haven’t signed yet, please consider it. Click on the screenshot below to sign. It’s for the women of Iran, and thanks to Nazí Paikidze-Barnes for starting it.



  1. Posted October 4, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Signed right after I saw the post. Thanks for having pointed it out.

    • fjordaniv
      Posted October 4, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink


  2. TonyR
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this, I was very happy to sign this.

  3. Will G
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I signed it last night. I’m really glad this story has taken off, with Jerry, Sam Harris, and many more of my favorite people promoting it to their followers. As of now, the petition has crossed the 1,800 threshold.

    Unfortunately, Susan Polgar is not performing well under scrutiny. She has updated her statement with a lengthy preamble accusing The Telegraph of dishonesty and demanding that they remove their article with apologies (They haven’t even amended it as far as I can tell).

    The big “lie”:

    Fide’s Commission for Women’s Chess, meanwhile, called on participants to respect “cultural differences” and accept the regulations.

    Now, The Telegraph does nothing more than supply Polgar’s own words in support of this summary (her amendments in braces):

    I have traveled to nearly 60 countries. When I visited different places with different cultures, I like to show my respect by dressing up in their traditional style of clothing (enclosed are a few examples of my trips to India, Vietnam and Azerbaijan, etc.). No one asked me to do it. I just do it out of respect. {I clearly never said anything about Iran}

    Does Polgar really think that a call to respect the host nation’s culture (“culture”) is not the gist of this statement?

    And please do, gentle reader, have a look at those pictures of her in other peoples’ native garb (here’s the link again). First, does she really not understand that taking the opportunity to play dress-up is not the same as being made to wear hijab? And second, where is the anti-cultural appropriation brigade when we need them?

    And then she unleashes this howler:

    If any player has a problem with it, she can and should voice her opinion to WOM (Commission for Women’s Chess) or FIDE and we can address it in our next meeting. {And here I clearly encouraged women to speak up if they have a problem with it. I want them to speak up if they are against it and I never asked them to be silenced.}

    Here, she’s rewriting her twitter history, where she explicitly admonishes Paikidze-Barnes not to speak up publicly, to keep everything in house where she could have been safely ignored.

    Please, everybody, sign this thing. It’s not too late for Polgar, WOM, and FIDE to correct their error.

    • Posted October 4, 2016 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for this informative comment. I haven’t kept up on Polgar, but her conflating “dress up” with the forced wearing of a hijab shows that she really hasn’t thought carefully about this issue–or doesn’t want to.

      • Will G
        Posted October 4, 2016 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

        Thank you!

        I thought I might be being a little unfair to Polgar, but then she released this screed explaining why she’s been blocking hundreds of people on social media. She has 36K tw*tter followers, Paikidze’s count has nearly doubled to 6.3K over the last week, yet in their exchange, Paikidze’s tw**ts get hundreds of likes, while Polgar only fields a dozen.

        You would think this would make her rethink her antagonism towards Paikidze and everyone else concerned, but no. What follows is deranged, authoritarian, self-pitying, paranoid, dishonest, obfuscating, and condescending in a neatly compacted ungrammatical package. 2m to read. You won’t regret it.

        I’m still trying to figure out how this ended up in Iran in the first place. According to Wikipedia:

        Iran offered to host the event, and after a brief discussion of the applicable dress code, none of the 159 attending delegates objected. Only when FIDE published the General Assembly decisions two weeks later did even the existence of the Iran offer (let alone its awarding) become widely known, and the issue rapidly become explosive

        What did Iran say regarding dress code? Were they dishonest, or did the representatives from the other nations just not care? Why didn’t they care, and what do they have to say for themselves now?

        Polgar takes no responsibility for the decision, or anything else. What’s her role in this? Does she have any actual authority, or is she just a globetrotting panjandrum? How is she working “behind the scene” (sic) to fix this, and can she really be interested in getting this fixed at all, given that she still makes reference to unnamed, unnumbered female players who are totally fine with everything the way it is?

  4. Christopher
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Did it during my lunch break, and happy to do so.

  5. Mark Joseph
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Signed, gleefully!

    I think the president of Iran should have to play best two out of the three against Ms. Paikidze-Barnes. If he wins, she has to play in the tournament in a hijab. If she wins, none of the women there have to.

  6. wildhog
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    How is this different from women in the US having to wear shirts/blouses/whatever to cover their breasts? Women in Iran have to wear a hijab, while men don’t. Women in the US have to cover their breasts, while men don’t. In both cases, the reasons given are cultural; puritanical ideas about decency.

    But cultural ideas don’t tend to pop up out of the blue, but are largely based on our evolved psychology. For example, might women’s desire for other women to have to cover themselves be an expression of intrasexual competition? Might women have an evolved sense of modesty, yet not want other women to steal attention?

    I wonder if the signers of the petition think that women in the US are required to wear shirts because of misogyny. If so, how do they explain the fact that more women than men support this norm:

    If not, then why do they believe misogyny is the motivation in Iran for requiring women to wear a hijab?

    • Taz
      Posted October 4, 2016 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

      Pictures of Iran from before the revolution seem to indicate that forced hijab wearing did pop up out of the blue. That combined with the strong resistance against it among many Iranian woman – even in the face of personal danger – makes your analogy weak at best.

      • wildhog
        Posted October 4, 2016 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

        There are women in the US who want to “free the nipple”, but that doesnt change the fact that most American women like the norm requiring women to cover themselves. So I dont think the fact that there are women in Iran who are against the hajib means most women there dont like it, or that the ones who do are.. what? Brainwashed into hating themselves?

        • ploubere
          Posted October 4, 2016 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

          Your argument is a false equivalency. Women in Iran are far more oppressed than American women, which is also true in most Muslim countries. The forced hijab is an indicator of their lack of freedom in many important aspects of their lives. U.S. laws against toplessness are all at the local level, and some places allow it. The ordinances don’t come from a national religious authority which controls every aspect of women’s lives as in Iran.

        • somer
          Posted October 5, 2016 at 1:57 am | Permalink

          ludicrous analogy. Nipples on women Are overtly sexual which I suspect is the real reason why you wan them “freed” – moreover covering the trunk is normally practical in terms of warmth. In western countries women can wear skimpy clothing – tank tops or bikini tops – in the heat. Even so, many places have nude beaches, and no law in no state polices dress at home. Of course pressure to please in another matter.

          The hijab is expected to be worn at all times within and without the home – is always hot, constricting, inconvenient and anonymising. In many muslim countries, the religious culture is imposed from family, clan, community as well as theocratic level – the woman may even risk death at the hands of relatives if she defies their wishes and at the least she is shamed for (under the rules of the religious culture that prioritises control of women) “shaming” the family in the eyes of others

          • dallos
            Posted October 5, 2016 at 4:52 am | Permalink

            The mouth, long hair and neck are overtly sexual, I think that’s why you want to “free” them.

            Yes, it’s a ludicrous analogy.

          • Wunold
            Posted October 5, 2016 at 6:45 am | Permalink

            The hijab is expected to be worn at all times within and without the home

            To my knowledge, Muslimas are expected to cover themselves “only” before adult men that are not relatives or her own husband (see Sura 24.31

            Thus, they’d only have to wear the hijab at home if male strangers were present or could see them from the outside, not at all times.

      • dallos
        Posted October 5, 2016 at 3:22 am | Permalink

        “Owing to the aforementioned historical circumstances, the covering of hair has always been the norm in Iranian dress, and removing it was considered impolite, or even an insult. In the early 20th century, the Iranians associated not wearing it as something rural, nomadic, poor and non-Iranian. Since Iran, unlike most of its neighbors, was never colonized by any of the European powers, the Western influences and foreign dress code didn’t prevail.

        Attempts at changing the dress code (and perspectives toward it) occurred in mid-1930s when pro-Western autocratic ruler Reza Shah issued an arbitrary decree, banning all veils abruptly, swiftly and forcefully.”

        Why did he ban all veils, if nobody wanted to force it?
        What’s your conclusion if you know that the hijab is banned and you can’t see hijabs on women?

        • somer
          Posted October 5, 2016 at 5:21 am | Permalink

          It is still expected in islamic societies – just because it is customary does not mean it is not oppressive. I don’t subscribe to the equation of culture with justice. Why should women visiting Iran in a chess tournament have to wear it? Moreover if some women in Iran don’t want to wear it they should not be demonised by SJWs for this sentiment, which certainly happens in the case of ex Muslims in the West.

    • Will G
      Posted October 4, 2016 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

      What are you trying to prove here? Is freeing the nipple a cause you’re really passionate about? Or do you think you’ve struck upon some really interesting philosophical point about mores and government enforcement?

      Maybe you have, but it’s really inappropriate here. Women in Iran are really suffering under totalitarian Islam, and involuntary shirtitude here in the States does not rate next to it.

      Furthermore, the issue here is that FIDE is making the best women in the world choose between this indignity and not being allowed this chance to excel. Can you muster some sympathy, or is the fact that we’re not condemning all clothing ordinances all at once betray our hypocrisy in your eyes?

    • somer
      Posted October 5, 2016 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      In such a society the only hope of any respect and leeway a woman has is being seen to be devout – and assuming the status of an elder bossing the daughter in law within the extended family system. After all women who rebel can actually get killed by their own family members and the greatest locus of honour revolves around obedience of the women to traditional roles – and being seen to obey by the society so that the family is not shamed. they are ever watched. Moreover women have to start doing the practises that brainwash them – the prayers from 4.30 in the morning, the fasting etc – at 7 years thats 2 years before the boys because its so important to especially brainwash them to equate not being totally obedient and believing with evil. Thats why Mohammed is supposed to have said (in one of the Sahih hadith collections Bukari I think, maybe the next most sound, Muslim) that most of the residents of Hell are women – because its so important to strike fear into them and to brainwash them as they have lesser status under the religion and are expected NOT to challenge that.

    • somer
      Posted October 5, 2016 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      “If not, then why do they believe misogyny is the motivation in Iran for requiring women to wear a hijab?”
      Surveys of Women in Middle Eastern countries shows
      “Men and women, however, differ on the issue of a woman’s right to dress as she wishes. Women are more strongly in favor of this statement than men across the seven countries.”
      the survey doesnt include Iran which has a notorious record of interfering to doctor the results of such surveys.

  7. jt512
    Posted October 4, 2016 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    A bunch of comments seem to have gone missing.

  8. Wunold
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    Potential petitioners should be aware of the criticism of, namely the usage of an .org domain by a for-profit business, as well as possibly leaking and selling your personal data.

    I don’t want to discourage you but give you additional data for an informed decision.

  9. Moregain
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    There is something a little strange here. The FIDE internet site gives no date for the tournament other than “The event is planned to be held in February.” I’m assuming that these things take some organising let alone players and fans needing to make travel and accommodation arrangements so circa four months is ridiculously short notice.
    Interestingly every other WORLD EVENT being held in 2017 shows dates during which the event will be held. Could it be that in light of some protests FIDE is getting nervous. I do hope so.

    Sent from my iPad

  10. chrism
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    Signed, and very glad to do so.

  11. VRandom
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I think Hijab is a form of religious sexism because it is a dress code that is forced on women but not men. However, despite that, I don’t think boycotting is the right way to go. How is it helpful for women chess players in Iran if they cannot interact with visiting grandmasters? You cannot change the opinion of religious leaders of Iran, specially, its religious dictator to give up on Hijab. That is not going to happen.

    So I fail to see how a boycott or even change of country is going to be of any help to Iranian women. In fact, I do think it is harmful. Isn’t it better to hold the event in Iran (to allow Iranian women interact with the visiting GMs) but also at the same time criticise the Iranian government’s policy on forced veiling?

    • Will G
      Posted October 5, 2016 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      You misunderstand the issue. It’s not just about helping the women of Iran. It’s about women chess player outside of Iran, most of whom are not Muslim and do not wear head curtains, being made to wear this sexist garment in order to compete. We can agree that expanding hijab enforcement is bad, right?

    • VRandom
      Posted October 5, 2016 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      Good point, I had not thought about that. But in that case, it becomes a trade-off that becomes difficult to evaluate. On one hand holding the competition in Iran helps promote chess among women in Iran but on the other hand it forces other contestants to oblige with sexist religious rules. I am now less certain that boycotting is harmful but I’m also not convinced that it is helpful.

    • Wunold
      Posted October 5, 2016 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      A female chess player who doesn’t want to comply to the discriminating Hijab prescription has two options:

      – Participate in the tournament without a Hijab and risk being arrested.

      – Boycott the tournament.

      With regard to the safety of the attendees I unequally support the boycott.

  12. Posted October 5, 2016 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Joining the chorus of those happy to sign.

    Carl Kruse

  13. Posted October 5, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    The hijab is a sexist clothing on woman and makes them look like a terrorist

  14. Somer
    Posted October 6, 2016 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Good intentions are important but if you refuse to look into the nature of the real world – how can you know the best way to improve it? Universities are great for some degree of activism but their first commitment should always be truth

    • somer
      Posted October 6, 2016 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      Sorry this was meant to go on response to Jonathan Haight post

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