Iranian chess player banned from team for not wearing headscarf


An 18-year-old Iranian chess grandmaster was kicked out of the national chess team after she didn’t wear the compulsory hijab during a tournament in Gibraltar.

Dorsa Derakhsani wore a simple headband instead of a hijab during the tournament. Since the 1979 revolution, women in Iran are required to wear a headscarf when appearing in public and while travelling abroad in an official capacity.

Iran doesn’t just enforce the hijab on its own nationals but also requires that non-Iranian women wear the hijab when competing in the country.

Separately, Dorsa’s 15-year-old brother, Borna, was also kicked off the team when he agreed to compete against an Israeli opponent. Iran doesn’t recognise Israel as a state and the two countries don’t face off against each other in sporting competitions. “As a first step, these two will be denied entry to all tournaments taking place in Iran,” said Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh, the head of the Iranian Chess Federation, when speaking to the semiofficial Fars news agency.

“And, in the name of Iran, they will no longer be allowed the opportunity to be present on the national team.”

The teen siblings have not publicly commented on the matter.

Many sports personalities have protested against the hijab requirement that Iran places on women. Last year, American chess champion Nazi Paikidze did not attend a Iran competition out of protest. “When I learned about the situation in Iran, that … women are forced to wear hijab, I was heartbroken. I know that a lot of Iranian women are bravely protesting this forced law daily and risking a lot by doing so,” said Paikidze in an Instagram post. “That’s why I will NOT wear a hijab and support women’s oppression.”

Ukrainian chess player and former world champion Maria Muzychuk also boycotted the competition because of the hijab requirement.

Under Iranian law, women are required to cover their hair and wear loose-fitting clothes when they appear in public and foreigners are obliged to dress modestly when entering the Islamic Republic for whatever length of time.

READ MORE: US chess star boycotts championship in Iran because players have to wear hijabs

In September 2016, female players accused the World Chess Federation (FIDE) of failing to stand up for women’s rights after it said competitors must accept local law and wear hijabs during the world championship in Tehran, Iran.

Female grandmasters risked arrest if they did not cover their hair during the tournament, which prompted US women’s champion Nazi Paikidze to boycott the event.