Fiji Sun

Chess star says no to headscarf, pulls out of event in Iran

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New Delhi: Woman Grandmaste­r and former world junior girls’ champion Soumya Swaminatha­n has pulled out of the Asian Team Chess Championsh­ip, to be held in Hamadan, Iran, from July 26 to August 4, calling the Islamic country’s “compulsory headscarf ” rule violative of her personal rights. “I do not wish to be forced to wear a headscarf or burqa. I find the Iranian law of compulsory headscarf to be in direct violation of my basic human rights, including my right to freedom of expression and right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It seems that under the present circumstan­ces, the only way for me to protect my rights is to not go to Iran,” the 29-year-old, who is India No. 5 and world No. 97 among women, posted on her Facebook account.

Earlier, in 2016, top Indian shooter Heena Sidhu had withdrawn from the Asian Airgun meet in Iran citing the same reason.

Soumya said that when she first gave the nod to be a part of the Indian team, the host country was to be Bangladesh and the dates were different.

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