Iran bans chess players for 'bad hijab,' match against Israeli

Iran forbids athletes from competing against Israelis in sporting events; often players will feign illness or injury to avoid matches.

February 21, 2017 10:14
2 minute read.

Chess. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Two Iranian chess players have been banned from the Iranian National Chess Team, as well as domestic chess tournaments, one for playing a chess match against an Israeli and the other for not wearing a hijab at the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival, Radio Free Europe reported.

It was not immediately clear whether the dismissed players, siblings 18-year-old Dorsa Derakhshani and 15-year-old Borna Derakhashani, would face legal prosecution back home in Iran.

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Iran forbids athletes from competing against Israelis in sporting events; often players will feign illness or injury to avoid matches.

Iranian law dictates that all women are obligated to wear the Islamic hijab head covering. Infractions, known as 'bad hijab,' are commonly met with prison sentences and/or corporal punishments such as lashings. This law is extended to Iranians considered to be ambassadors of their country such as sports players and other dignitaries.

In 2016, an Iranian woman was disqualified from being sworn into parliament, after being elected, due to photos claiming to show her without a hijab - photos she says were faked.

Multiple players have decided to boycott the Women's World Chess Championship 2017, which is set to be held in Tehran, due to Islamic dress codes, women's rights issues and risks to certain foreign nationals in the country.
Iranian woman dances and removes hijab

Morality police in Iran usually detain women on the street for wearing bright clothes, a loose hijab or make-up, and men for "unacceptable" hair and clothing styles. They have sealed off barber shops for giving Western haircuts and cafes in which boys and girls were not observing Islamic law.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani came to office in 2013 mainly on the votes of young people, and he has disagreed with strict Islamic rules. Many young Iranians hoped that his presidency would be accompanied by an easing of cultural restrictions.

But hardliners have moved to block any relaxation of the Islamic Republic's social rules, warning of the "infiltration" of Western culture. They harshly criticized Rouhani last year for saying the police should enforce the law rather than Islam.

In 2014, he said "you can't send people to heaven by the whip," a comment that brought a reaction from the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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