If you’re planning on getting into the competitive world of chess, be prepared to adopt very specific cultural traditions for the world championships. In 2017 the event will take place in Iran, and in doing so, the female competitors must abide by Iran’s rules and they will be forced to wear a hijab, otherwise they could be arrested or face admonishment at the hands of Iranian moral police.
The Islamic nation mandates for women to wear a hijab, and that’s not sitting well with female chess players who are now questioning if they’ll be attending the world championships in the gender repressive Islamic nation.
An article by the Telegraph [via Twitter] recently reported that the Fédération Internationale des Échecs, shortened to FIDE, have already setup the world championship
to take place in the middle-east and that the host country is Iran.
The FIDE commission has requested all the female chess players to abide by the cultural regulations and rules of the host country, which means that they must cover their heads in a hijab when (or if) they visit Iran for the championship matches.
The tournament will consist of 64 different players participating in knockout rounds until one player is crowned the 2017 world champion. However, they may not have 64 players if some of them choose to sit out the championship tournament due to gender inequality practiced by Islamic countries like Iran.
The U.S., national champion, Nazi Paikidze, explained to the Telegraph…
“I understand and respect cultural differences. But, failing to comply can lead to imprisonment and women’s rights are being severely restricted in general.
“It does not feel safe for women from around the world to play here.” […] “I am honoured and proud to have qualified to represent the United States in the Women’s World Championship. But, if the situation remains unchanged, I will most certainly not participate in this event.”
Former champion and Ecuadorian, Carla Heredia, also made an excellent point about another rule that Iran enforces, such as a unmarried women being able to share a room with a male, posing the question to the Telegraph…
“This violates all what sports means. Sport should be free of discrimination by sex, religion and sexual orientation.
“The obligation to use hijab is one issue, another one is that women can’t share room with a male if she is not married to him.
“So the question remains what would happen if women chess players want to share the room with a male coach or if women chess players want to prepare for the game visiting the coach’s room.”
It’s an excellent question, and one FIDE should have considered as well, especially as they seem to have gone out of their way to put the female players at risk in country that neither strives for nor cares about gender equality.
The Telegraph also managed to get quotes from a former British contender, Nigel Short, who stated…
“”There are people from all sorts of backgrounds going to this, there will be atheists, Christians, all sorts of people. […] If you are deeply Christian why would you want to wear a symbol of Islamic oppression of women?”
If you value equal rights and gender equality, why would force women into a situation where they must cede their rights to compete in a nation that openly accepts and practices gender oppression?
Some members of FIDE attempted to defend the decision, saying that women need to learn to respect the cultural differences of various host nations, and that competitors should be willing to oblige the request to wear a hijab out of respect.
Susan Polgar, the chairperson on FIDE’s commission for the women’s chess organization, mentioned that…
“I cannot speak on behalf of others but from my personal conversations with various players in the past year, they had no real issues with it.
“If any player has a problem with it, she can and should voice her opinion to the Commission for Women’s Chess or Fide and we can address it in our next meeting.”
Where video games are being unceremoniously attacked for their liberal depictions of women in scant clothing, it’s amazing that there are those defending real life oppression of women for the sake of competing in a game.
Culture critics and gender activists have been attacking video games relentlessly over the past few years, mostly on the grounds that women flaunting too much skin within the virtual worlds is “sexist” and “misogynistic”, even persistently getting the U.N., to impose requests on Japan to ban games and anime containing sexually explicit depictions of fictional female characters, as reported by Niche Gamer. However, they don’t seem to show the same level of verve against countries like Iran that practice actual, real life gender inequality and sexism under the banner of Islam.