Iranian Chess Referee Won’t Return Home After Hijab Row

Bayat said the risk is too high for her to return home to her family.
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Iranian chess referee, Shohreh Bayat was accused of violating her country’s strict Islamic dress code after images emerged that appeared to show her not wearing a headscarf, known as a hijab. She was recorded at the Women’s World Chess Championship in Shanghai wearing a hijab while presiding over the contest but at other times seemingly without her head covered.

Since Iran’s Islamic Revolution, women have been ordered to cover their hair for the sake of modesty. Violators are publicly admonished, fined or arrested. Bayat said there are many people in prison in Iran because of the headscarf and that it’s now too risky to return.

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The 32-year-old claims she wasn’t attempting to protest. She is angry that her achievements in chess have been overlooked, as the argument surrounding how she dressed has been the main talking point. She had asked Iran’s chess federation to write a letter guaranteeing her safety on her return to Iran but they reportedly declined.

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