Indian Chess Player Soumya Swaminathan who was former world junior girls' champion has refused to participate in the Asian Team Chess Championship that is scheduled to be held in Hamadan, Iran, from July 26 to August 4. The reason for withdrawal is the compulsory headscarf rule in the country. Soumya feels that this rule is a violation of her personal rights and right to freedom.
She announced her withdrawal on Saturday by posting on her Facebook page, She wrote,
"I am very sorry to state that I have asked to be excused from the Indian Women's team for the forthcoming Asian Nations Cup ( Asian Team ) Chess Championship 2018, to be held at Iran from 26 July - 4 Aug 2018, as I do not wish to be forced to wear a Headscarf or Burkha. 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 not to go to Iran.
I am very disappointed to see that player's rights and welfare are given such less importance while allotting and/or organising official championships. I understand the organisers expecting us to wear our National Team Dress or Formals or Sporting attire for our games during official championships, but surely there is no place for an enforceable religious dress code in Sports.
It is a huge honour for me to represent India everytime I am selected in the National Team and I deeply regret that I will be unable to participate in such an important championship. While we sportspersons are willing to make several adjustments for the sake of our sport, always giving it top priority in our life, some things simply cannot be compromised."
This initiated a debate about whether her decision was right or not. While many people supported her, there were few who defended the rule in Iran. However, Soumya had a comeback to every criticism.
Have a look:
The majority, however, was in support of the player.
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