Iranian chess players Sara Khadem and Atousa Pourkashiyan take part in an international tournament without hijab | world news

Two Iranian chess players took part in an international tournament without a hijab.

Sara Khadem and Atousa Pourkashiyan, who compete in the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan, followed other Iranian sportswomen in ditching the headscarf.

Photographs posted to the International Chess Federation’s Flickr feed show them with their hair exposed and deeply focused as they focus on a game.

There were no comments on either woman’s Instagram page.

Atusa Pourkashiyan. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE

The hijab, which is compulsory under Iran’s strict Islamic dress code, has become the focus of protests against the Iranian government.

The unrest followed the death of Mahsa Amini22, who died in custody in September after being arrested by Iranian vice police for not wearing her hijab properly.

Ms Amini’s cousin Erfan Mortezaei told Sky News she was “tortured and insulted” before she dies.

Women played a prominent role in the protests, removing and in some cases burning their headscarves.

In October, Iranian mountaineer Elnaz Rekabi competed in South Korea without a headscarf, later claiming she had done so unintentionally.

In November, an Iranian archer said she didn’t notice her hijab falling off at an awards ceremony in Tehran.

Video has emerged showing her dropping the headscarf in what has been widely interpreted as support for protesters.

Sara Khadem.  Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE
Sara Khadem. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE

Ahead of Iran’s first game in the Qatar World Cup recently, defender Ehsan Hajsafi expressed apparent support for anti-government protesters back home.

“They must know that we are with them. And we support them. And we sympathize with them regarding the conditions,” the AEK Athens player said.

“We have to accept the the conditions in our country are not good and our people are not happy. We are here but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be their voice or that we shouldn’t respect them.”

The team did not sing the national anthem before their first game, but did before the second and third.

Earlier this month, Iran’s attorney general said the morality police had been “closed”.


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