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India's woman chess champion withdraws Iran tournament over headscarf rule

(Xinhua)    10:47, June 13, 2018

NEW DELHI, June 13 -- India's woman chess star Soumya Swaminathan has pulled out of a chess tournament to be held in Iran next month, opposing the Islamic country's mandatory rule of wearing headscarf for women athletes.

Announcing her decision through a Facebook post, the chess grandmaster said that wearing a headscarf "violated" her basic human right, including her right to freedom, conscience and religion.

The chess tournament is to be held in Iran from July 26 to Aug 4.

"I do not wish to be forced to wear a headscarf. I find the Iranian law of compulsory wearing 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," said Soumya in her Facebook page.

She further stated that she was very disappointed to see that player's rights and welfare are given such less importance while allotting and/or organizing 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," she said in her post.

She also stated that she deeply regretted that she will be unable to participate in such an important championship which will qualify for World Team Chess Championship.

"Some things simply cannot be compromised," she said.

This is not the first time when an Indian sportsperson has withdrawn from a tournament to be held in Iran over its compulsory rule of wearing headscarf for women athletes.

In 2016, India's pistol shooter Heena Sidhu had pulled out of the Asian Airgun Shooting Championship' held in Iran over the same reason.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Xu JiaWei, Bianji)

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