Ace Iranian Chesser Exiled For Competing Without Hijab

Tehran: Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, also known as Sara Khadem, an Iranian chess player, recently competed in an international competition without wearing a headscarf, which caused a huge uproar among the Iranian authorities.

25-year-old Sara competed in the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Almaty without wearing the hijab, which is mandatory under Iran’s stringent dress codes.

She decided to forego her headscarf in order to support the Iranian protest movement and believed that the worst that could happen to her would be a warning. Instead, the top chess player in the country is now unable to go back to Iran and is expecting arrest papers.

According to media reports, the chess star and her family are currently residing in exile in Southern Spain. She has asked that her whereabouts not be made public by media sources for security reasons.

Iran has experienced a wave of anti-clerical leadership protests since Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, died while being held by morality police after being arrested for “inappropriate attire” in the middle of September.

A number of sportswomen playing abroad have been spotted in public without their headscarves, raising controversy over laws requiring hijab use.

According to the website of the International Chess Federation, Khadem is now ranked 804 in the world. She was listed as taking part in both the Rapid and Blitz categories on the event’s website, which was up from December 25 to 30.

Iranians from all walks of life have participated in the protests, which represent one of the most audacious challenges to the Iranian government since the 1979 revolution.

Women have taken a leading role in the protests, taking off and in some cases burning their headscarves, while demonstrators have found encouragement in what they perceive to be gestures of solidarity from both Iranian male and female athletes.

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