Iranian Chess Player Competes Without Hijab

On Monday, Iranian chess player Sara Khadem became the latest woman from the country to compete in an international competition without wearing her hijab. The headscarf is required under the strict dress code of the Islamic Republic.

Iranian Chess Player Competes Without Hijab
Image credit: FIDE/Reuters [via Fox News]

Facts

  • On Monday, Iranian chess player Sara Khadem became the latest woman from the country to compete in an international competition without wearing her hijab. The headscarf is required under the strict dress code of the Islamic Republic.
  • Other athletes to have competed without hijabs include climber Elnaz Rekabi, who competed in South Korea in October, and archer Parmida Ghasemi, who removed her hijab during an awards ceremony in Tehran in November. Both athletes later stated they were unaware that the headscarves had fallen off, though it's unclear if those statements were made under duress.
  • Iranian chess referee Shohreh Bayat also faced online criticism for not wearing her headscarf at the Women's World Chess Championship held in both Russia and China. She said she's now afraid to return home.
  • Protests in Iran began following the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police after being arrested for a breach of the required dress code. Since her death, women in the republic have been protesting, burning their hijabs, and cutting their hair in disagreement with the law.
  • In November, actresses Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi were both arrested for publicly removing their hijabs. According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), a crackdown on protests by the Khamenei admin has resulted in the deaths of at least 410 protesters, the detainment of over 17k, and the deaths of 54 security force members.
  • Iran has largely blamed the West — specifically the US — for fanning the flames and fueling the anti-government protests. The execution of two protesters in December has also drawn outrage and sanctions from the international community.

Sources: FOX News, CNN, Times of Israel, Independent, and Hindustan Times.

Narratives

  • Anti-Iran narrative, as provided by Washington Post. Democratic leaders are right to show their disdain for the cruel and brutish regime that has no qualms about executing its own people. Though long overdue, the international community is finally taking a stance against the severe human rights violations committed by Tehran; the days of turning a blind are over.
  • Pro-Iran narrative, as provided by NPR Online News. While Iran is obviously facing significant challenges, the US and Israel are also to blame for stoking this unrest. Western influence has brought about many challenges since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and the republic is determined to focus on reducing the problems facing the Iranian people and showing its enemies that their meddling campaigns are both useless and hopeless.
  • Narrative C, as provided by UN Women. The death of Mahsa Amini was the final straw for many Iranian women that have faced decades of systemic oppression regarding what they can wear or say. Such oppression doesn't just impact women, but the potential talent and abilities of the whole country. What makes this protest different is that alongside these fearless women are Iranian men, showing the unprecedented support behind the movement.