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A female chess player is the latest Iranian to compete in an international competition without a hijab, or head scarf, something that is mandatory in Iran.
A pair of Iranian news outlets reported that chess player Sara Khadem showed up to FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan sans a head scarf.
Khadem, who also goes by Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, is reportedly ranked No. 804 in the world. She will not be the only Iranian woman to play in the tournament without the traditional head covering. Sky News reports that Atousa Pourkashiyan played at the same tournament and also chose not to wear a hijab.
This comes as protests have swept across Iran after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in police custody. Amini had been arrested by the country’s “morality police” for not wearing a hijab.
Athletes Have Been Raising Awareness About The Situation In Iran
Athletes have been drawing attention to issues in Iran on the international stage.
In October, competitive climber Elnaz Rekabi competed at an event in South Korea without a head scarf. Her actions drew widespread attention to the situation in Iran. However, when she returned to her home country, she had her cell phone confiscated and was placed on house arrest.
Eventually, the police even demolished her family’s home.
Professional soccer player Amir Nasr-Azadani is also reportedly in a heap of trouble. He is said to have spoken out against the government and is believed to be in danger of facing execution.
FIFPRO a union for international players called for his freedom.
The Iranian national soccer team made a statement as well at the World Cup. The team chose not to sing their national anthem ahead of their opening match. However, they did in the two matches that followed.
The athletes who are speaking out against an oppressive government like Iran’s are certainly gutsy. They’re putting not only their lives but their families’ lives at risk to make their country better.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle