Iranian chess arbiter Shohreh Bayat is reportedly considering not returning home from Russia where she is currently officiating in the ongoing women’s world championship after pictures of her not wearing a headscarf appeared in the media. Also Read - FIDE Chess Olympiad 2020: India Clinch Historic Gold, Russia Declared Joint Winners After Server Malfunction
Not wearing hijab is an offence in Iran and could invite fine, public admonishment or arrest. Also Read - India's Koneru Humpy Beats China's Lei Tingjie to Become Women's World Rapid Champion
What should have been a career-highlight for Bayat has instead become a source of controversy and she fears returning home. “I turned on my mobile and saw that my picture was everywhere [in Iranian media]. They were claiming I was not wearing a headscarf and that I wanted to protest against the hijab,” Ms Bayat told the BBC. Also Read - 'FIDE Has Right to Reinstate Ratings of Banned Indian players'
Bayat said forcing people to wear something is against her belief. “It’s against my beliefs. People should have the right to choose the way they want to dress, it should not be forced. I was tolerating it because I live in Iran. I had no other choice,” she said.
Bayat was photographed with scarf draped over her shoulders and not over hair while in others, she was seen covering her head. As per reports, she was asked to write an apology for her actions which she has refused.
“There are many people in prison in Iran because of the headscarf. It’s a very serious issue. Maybe they’d want to make an example of me,” she said. “I can’t think of any Iranian women who have worked at such a high-level tournament. But the only thing that matters for them is my hijab, not my qualification. That really bothers me.”