British Grandmaster Nigel Short expressed concerns over the news. Nazi Paikidze-Barnes, the 2016 U.S. chess champion, said she would not attend the competition rather than comply with a “modesty” law that compels female contestants to cover their hair with scarves, reports The Washington Post. The law has been in place since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.
“I will NOT wear a hijab and support women’s oppression. Even if it means missing one of the most important competitions of my career,” the chess champion said on Instagram.
“The 22-year-old U.S. chess champion’s sincere protest,” argue Asra Q. Nomani and Masih Alinejad, “is a remarkable checkmate to the government of Iran and other fundamentalist elements in our Muslim societies, who peddle ‘hijab’ as a virtual sixth pillar of Islam for women,” and “a welcome departure from politicians, journalists, nonprofit leaders and fashion designers who express, for lack of a better word, a hijab fetish, which romanticizes and normalizes the hijab.”