We all know how important it is to be properly dressed for work, but how far can your employer or even the government go in specifying what you must wear to preform your chosen occupation? That is the question that has many of the worlds top chess players up in arms over a recent government ruling.
The controversy stems from the exclusion of an 18-year-old female chess grand-master that has been banned from competing on the national chess team. The controversy arose when Dorsa Derakshami showed up for a scheduled series of chess matches earlier this year in what national officials deemed “was not proper attire.” They said that being dressed as she was would distract other players from their concentration during their matches.
But Ms. Derakshami refused to submit to their orders to adjust her clothing to a more conservative look and that has resulted in her being banned from the national team. I know your wondering just what she could have possible been wearing that the officials found to be so alluring as to be a detriment to the game. Well, it is not what she was wearing that is the problem. It was what she wasn’t wearing that is at issue.
It seems that the attractive, raven-haired, 18 year old was banned from the team for refusing to wear the hijab, which has been a mandatory requirement for women in Iran since Shiite Islamists seized power in the formerly secular nation in 1979. Recently Dorsa Derakshani flaunted Iranian law by refusing to wear the Muslim headscarf while competing as an independent player at the 2017 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival.
It seems that rebellion runs in the family, because her 15-year-old brother, Borna, has also been banned from the team because he chose to compete against an Israeli player in the same tournament. Iran is notoriously anti-Semitic, prohibiting its sports athletes, including chess players, from fraternizing with and competing against Israelis.
When questions about the double banning, the head of Iran’s Chess Federation, Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh, said that the organization intends to punish the siblings in the “severest way possible,” per a post on My Stealthy Freedom, an online movement of Iranian women who are attempting to regain their freedoms in the Islamic Republic. “Unfortunately, what shouldn’t have happened has happened,” he said. “Our national interests have priority over everything.”
Dorsa achieved her status as an International Master and Woman Grand-master titles in 2016 following multiple victories on the international stage, and currently lives in Barcelona. She joins the ranks of US Women’s Chess Champion Nazi Paikidze-Barnes in her refusal to wear the prohibitive headgear, which they see as a tool of women’s oppression in the Middle East.
The world chess championship is set to take place in Iran in 2017, and competing women are not merely encouraged to don the headscarf to compete at the event—they are forced to do so. Women with their hair on display face fines and even arrest for appearing in public “Not properly attired”.
Let’s all hear it for the Peaceful, Serene, Loving and Compassionate religion of Islam. I guess the next thing will to be requiring them to wear the Burka as well.