UPDATE: The goal of 1000 signatories has been exceeded, thanks to many readers here, and has now been raised to 1,500. Given the 40,000-odd subscribers here, many who surely agree with Paikidze-Barnes, I’d like to see thousands of signers. Click on any screenshot to add your name.
As I mentioned a few days ago, FIDE, the World Chess Federation, is holding the Women’s World Championships in Iran, and all women players are required to wear the hijab while playing. Nazí Paikidze-Barnes, the U.S. Women’s Chess Champion, has simply pulled out of the competition because of this ridiculous dress requirement, whose violators are subject to arrest. 64 women are slotted to appear there, but Paikidze-Barnes, courageously, won’t be one of them. Other women players, too, are calling for a boycott of this event.
Paikidze-Barnes has organized a petition to FIDE (click on screenshot below to see it) to do something about the requirement that chess players adhere to religious and misogynistic definition of “modesty”. The requirement that women players veil themselves makes a mockery of the claim that wearing the hijab is a matter of “choice,” although of course Iranian law requires that women be veiled in public. And the requirement for a hijab, as noted below, breaks FIDE’s own principle that players not be discriminated against on the basis of nationality, politics, race, sex, or religion.
This is more than an issue of dress in a sporting event; it’s an issue of whether fundamentalist Islam has the right to make non-Muslims adhere to religious dictates in a non-religious venue. If you click on the screenshot below, you can go sign the petition, and given the number of readers here, it should be easy to get the number of signatories over the goal of 1000 (there are 803). But I’d like see that goal exceeded by a substantial margin. I would be DELIGHTED if, in the next few hours, those readers who agree with Paikidze-Barnes could sign that petition and perhaps, by posting it on Facebook, get others to do otherwise. If you play chess yourself, you’ll have a special interest in this issue, as it puts religious restrictions on players.
The Change.org plea, written by Paikidze-Barnes, proposes alternatives for FIDE:
In its handbook, FIDE explicitly states its guiding moral principles and one of them is that the organization “rejects discriminatory treatment for national, political, racial, social or religious reasons or on account of sex.” (F.01(1)(2)). Yet, by awarding the Championship to Iran, it is breaking that pledge to its members and subjecting them to discrimination on all fronts.
We propose two solutions:
- Change the venue or postpone the competition until another organizer is found to host the championship in a “no conflict” venue.
- Require that wearing a hijab be optional and guarantee no discrimination based on gender, nationality, or any other human rights as pointed out in the FIDE handbook (listed above).
These issues reach far beyond the chess world. While there has been social progress in Iran, women’s rights remain severely restricted. This is more than one event; it is a fight for women’s rights. By signing this petition, you can help support the cause and make a real, positive change in the world.
Thank you for your support!
U.S. Women’s Champion
As Asra Nomani has pointed out, this is equivalent to requiring male players in Iran to wear hoodies. But of course they wouldn’t be, for the dress requirement applies only to women. Is that fair? I can’t see how.
Paikidze-Barnes is of course hurting her career with this move, as she’s simply out of the championships; but she clearly cares more about the plight of women than for her own personal advancement. This is an admirable thing to do. If you share her feelings, please go over and sign the petition.