Chess Star Refuses To Wear Hijab

Here’s an interesting story about an American chess champion who refuses to wear the hijab and is boycotting the upcoming championship tournament being held in Iran.

Here’s what she had to say about it:

“Some consider a hijab part of culture,” Paikidze said in an Instagram post announcing her decision. “But, I know that a lot of Iranian women are bravely protesting this forced law daily and risking a lot by doing so. That’s why I will NOT wear a hijab and support women’s oppression.”

She goes on to say:

“These issues reach far beyond the chess world,” the petition says. “While there has been social progress in Iran, women’s rights remain severely restricted. This is more than one event; it is a fight for women’s rights.”

I honestly can’t applaud her enough. I really think ‘we’ in the West are failing women and minorities in theocratic Middle Eastern countries. We often make excuses for not criticizing the abhorrent treatment of women and minorities because it’s supposedly ‘cultural in nature’ and we pretend that world opinion means nothing.

Personally I say fuck that. We are essentially ignoring human rights abuses in the name of political correctness and I think we need to start having an honest conversation about what is going on around the world.

However, to give you the full context, some people disagree with Nazi’s decision. They said:

“This is going to be the biggest sporting event women in Iran have ever seen; we haven’t been able to host any world championship in other sporting fields for women in the past,” Hejazipour, 23, told the Guardian. “It’s not right to call for a boycott. These games are important for women in Iran; it’s an opportunity for us to show our strength.”

Honestly, that’s a good point as well. I can see that point of view and it makes me wish there was some sort of middle ground between wearing the hijab and boycotting – some way that Nazi could take part but not endorse the idea that women must wear a hijab.

The World Chess Federation said:

“It is not a [federation] regulation or requirement to wear a hijab during the event.” The statement says the organization does require participants to “respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend.”

So it’s not technically required but if you read between the lines, I think it fairly obvious that it’s expected and not wearing a hijab would be frowned upon.

Even with the statement and the point about it being an opportunity to show women’s strength, I still agree with Nazi’s initial boycott. I think it will help draw attention to the unfair treatment that women are facing in Iran, as well as other parts of the world. I also think it will spark desperately needed conversation around the world.

What do you think?



  1. Ever the great compromiser, I would be inclined to go to the tournament (so as not to let down the side) and participate, but quietly NOT wear the hijab. I can appreciate her point of view, but it seems, at least from here, as if she is being overly tight assed about it all, and willing to disrupt an entire tournament for the sake of her principles, as noble as they are.

    • I’m not sure that’s possible. I think they will be strictly watched and they were told to respect traditions, which includes the hijab.

      I wish there were a better way, but I think what she is doing is noble, especially in today’s political climate where doing something like this can earn you an Islamophobe label or racist label. I think we need more people like her.

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