World chess champion advocates for women’s rights


Sarah Tocatlian

Controversy arises as Iran, the host of next year’s Women’s World Chess Championship, will require women to adhere to the country’s “modesty” law and wear a hijab.

Sarah Tocatlian , Staff Writer

On Oct. 8, the International Chess Federation (FIDE) announced that Iran would host next year’s Women’s World Chess Championship, which means that female contestants will have to cover their hair with scarves in accordance with an Islamic law.

As a result, Nazi Paikidze-Barnes, a United States’ women’s chess champion, wants to withdraw from the upcoming world championship. 

According to The New York Times, Paikidze-Barnes has said that requiring women to wear a hijab is a human rights issue.

“I believe that as a human being you should be able to follow your own principles that you believe in no matter where you are in the world,” said sophomore Zaina Abdelrahman.

Similar to what Abdelrahman said, Paikidze-Barnes believes that her rights as a human are not being protected.

In a post on Instagram, Paikidze-Barnes wrote, “I think it’s unacceptable to host a Women’s World Championship in a place where women do not have basic fundamental rights and are treated as second-class citizens.”

Paikidze-Barnes has organized a petition asking the competition’s governing body to either move the competition from Iran to a different location without the hijab requirement or to persuade Iranian officials to make wearing a hijab an option instead of a necessity.

“I don’t entirely agree with Paikidze-Barnes’s statement. Of course, you can stand up for what you believe in, but it’s more respectful to follow the rules that this country has in place. Some women who wear a hijab wear it by choice to feel more empowered, not because they are oppressed, which is what I think Paikidze-Barnes is implying,” said senior Alyssa Fine.

According to the Washington Post, World Chess Federation spokeswoman Anastasiya Karlovich posted on Chess Daily News that the organization defends their decision to host the championship in Iran. The statement said that no other country had asked to host and that Iran has successfully held a global event before, proving that there should not be any issues with the competition being held there.

In an interview with The New York Times, Paikidze-Barnes said, “I am not anti-Islam or any other religion. I stand for freedom of religion and choice. I’m protesting FIDE’s decision not because of Iran’s religion or people, but for the government’s laws that are restricting my rights as a woman.”