Several regional chess federations have come together to actually do something important for once: stand up for female chess players. U.S., chess champion Nazi Paikidze threatened to boycott the World Championships in 2017 being held in Tehran, Iran over a rule that dictates female players visiting the country must abide by Iranian laws regarding dress codes, this includes wearing hijab at all times, amongst other strict rules. The U.S., Danish and British chess federations have come out in support and solidarity of Paikidze in her stance against the requirement.
The Telegraph has been surprisingly consistent in covering the matter, where female chess players have become angered at the governing chess body, FIDE, for ceding the World Championships to take place in Iran despite having practicing many laws and having institutional gender inequality running rampant within their culture.
The chess players and other females originally took their anger to the governing chair over the women’s body of chess players, Susan Polgar, who was the first woman to earn the title of a grandmaster. Polgar ended up blocking a lot of the complaints from people on Twitter, labeling them as “trolls”, as reported by the Telegraph.
Paikidze and her supporters didn’t back down, though, and have managed to gather more than 15,000 signatures on a petition currently up on change.org. Paikidze and others are requesting to move the venue outside of Tehran, Iran, writing in the petition…
“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”
The U.S., English and Danish regional federations backed Paikidze, with board president Gary Walters saying…
“We absolutely support Nazi Paikidze. Women should not be oppressed for cultural, religious or ethnic reasons. US Chess wholeheartedly supports Paikidze. She has taken a principled position of which we can be proud.
“Last week, US Chess delivered a letter to Fide asking it to clarify any dress or other behavior that may be imposed upon the participants by the host government or federation.
“We reminded Fide that the forced wearing of a hijab or other dress is contrary to Fide’s handbook, as well as against the International Olympic Committee’s principles, an organization Fide has sought to join for a substantial period of time.”
FIDE thought itself being progressive by having the World Championships hosted in Iran, even though it’s considered one of the more gender-oppressive countries in the developed world.
Quite naturally, the head of the Iranian chess federation, Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh, fired back at the other regions, stating…
“Everywhere in the world, there are rules on how to cover your body. There is no place in the world where people can wear nothing in public”
Apparently Pahlevanzadeh has never been to the hedonist resorts in Jamaica, the nude beaches of France, Cape Cod or Greece, or has never heard of Amsterdam.
The fact that Pahlevanzadeh has such a narrow view of the world would explain why they’re intent on enforcing Islamic standards practiced in Iran on others who would be visiting from around the world.
FIDE decided to chicken out in a response, however, weighing in on the manner by simply saying that “chess players should respect the laws of countries”.
It seems weird that in an their attempt to be progressive by respecting other religions, FIDE is being regressive when it comes to women’s rights.