I‘ve posted several times about the decision of FIDE, the international chess organization, to host its Women’s World Championship in Iran next February, requiring players to don the hijab (headscarf). American champion Nazí Paikidze-Barnes objected, refusing to abide by the misogynistic covering laws of Iran and saying she’d boycott the championship. Here’s an update:
First, Nazí’s petition, which began, as I recall, with a goal of 1000 signatures, now has over 15,000. Click on the screenshot below to go to the change.org petition, and please add your name if you agree with her and haven’t yet signed. My big wish was that only half of the subscribers to this site would sign it, and that would be over 20,000 signatures alone! Sadly, I couldn’t rouse that much enthusiasm, but perhaps I can persuade a few more of you to sign. The goal will increase as each previous goal is met, so it’s an open-ended petition with no expiration date I can see. Paikidze-Barnes notes that, in forcing participants to wear hijabs, FIDE is violating its own regulations, as the organization “rejects discriminatory treatment for national, political, racial, social or religious reasons or on account of sex.” Mandatory veiling is, of course, discrimination against women.
And Pikidze-Barnes does offer alternative 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).
As CNS News reports, Nazí’s pettion is gaining supporters:
Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov expressed his backing in a series of tweets.
“Hosting an official championship in a repressive theocracy demanding all participants wear hijab is bad even for this corrupt FIDE admin,” he said in one.
“I hope the world’s chessplayers, women and men, find the courage to protest FIDE’s decision,” said another. “Women’s rights are human rights.
Carolina Lujan, an Argentinian woman grandmaster who is one of 64 women around the world who qualifies for the 2017 women’s championship, said in a social media post she was surprised at the FIDE decision to allow Iran to host the event, “knowing some of the laws of this country in relation to human rights and especially those of women.”
“I consider it a danger to me to take part in a competition in a country where by law they can force me to wear hijab or forbid me to work with my trainer in a closed room,” she wrote. “It also scares me that a misunderstanding or my ignorance of the country’s culture can produce an offense that can have me arrested or worse.”
Lujan said she does not intend to boycott the championship, but said she had written to FIDE’s women’s commission to air her concerns, “in the hope they help us finding a solution.”
British grandmaster Nigel Short has called the FIDE decision to hold the event in Tehran “scandalous,” and Emil Sutovsky, an Israeli grandmaster who is president of the non-profit Association of Chess Professionals, is urging people in the chess fraternity who share Paikidze-Barnes’ views to speak out.
“I know very well from the conversations with many top women players, that they are unhappy about the venue,” he wrote on Facebook. “I imagine that there are many [national chess] federations who see a clear problem – but still, no clear stand, no statement, no protest.”
Now it’s a bit cowardly for Lujan to protest so vehemently and still take place in the championship, but I do understand that her international ranking would be affected by her opting out. That’s why Paikidze-Barnes’s stand is so courageous. But I still find it puzzling that FIDE would not only violate its own principles and allow sex discrimination in a secular venue (a chess championship, after all, is not held in a mosque), but also require chess players, who are notoriously picky about the conditions of play (remember Bobby Fisher’s complaints about temperature?), to suddenly have to play wearing a covering on their head.
Sadly, FIDE appears to be holding firm, and bad on them:
Sutovsky also said he had received an answer from FIDE to an inquiry about the championship in Tehran: “the contract with Iran is signed, and the players will be required to follow all the local laws in regards to dressing.”
That’s simply reprehensible, but is not surprising in these days of the Regressive Left not only going along with veiling, but positively celebrating it.
I want to add another tale of a gutsy women defying veiling regulations Iran. That woman was the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, who died in 2006 but had been famous for her penetrating interviews, often requiring not just courage to ask hard questions, but simple physical courage. One example is her interview with the Iranian mullah Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. Daled Amos’s website tells the tale:
For the interview, Fallaci was told she would have to wear a chador, an open cloak worn by many women in Iran, during the interview,
Which she did.
For a while.
OF: I still have to ask you a lot of things. About the “chador”, for example, which I was obliged to wear to come and interview you, and which you impose on Iranian women…. I am not only referring to the dress but to what it represents, I mean the apartheid Iranian women have been forced into after the revolution. They cannot study at the university with men, they cannot work with men, they cannot swim in the sea or in a swimming-pool with men. They have to do everything separately, wearing their “chador”. By the way, how can you swim wearing a “chador”?
AK: None of this concerns you, our customs do not concern you. If you don’t like the Islamic dress you are not obliged to wear it, since it is for young women and respectable ladies.
OF: This is very kind of you, Imam, since you tell me that, I’m going to immediately rid myself of this stupid medieval rag. There!
Ms. Paikidze-Barnes is in that proud tradition, and it pains me to envision a group of non-Muslim women playing chess in a big room while wearing headscarves. It’s the very picture of religious subjugation of women.