The reigning US Women’s Chess Champion has said she would rather sacrifice her career than submit to demands to wear a hijab at the next world championship.
Nazi Paikidze, one of the nation’s best-ranked players, swore to boycott the 2017 contest, which is being held in Iran and will have an enforced Islamic dress code.
Paikidze admitted that the decision will harm her career, but said that doing the bidding of an oppressive regime in order to compete is not a price worth paying.
In an interview with the founder of My Stealthy Freedom, a campaign against Iran’s hijab laws, she said: “I will NOT wear a hijab and support women’s oppression. Even if it means missing one of the most important competitions of my career.”
This is a post for those who don't understand why I am boycotting FIDE's decision. 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. For those saying that I don't know anything about Iran: I have received the most support and gratitude from the people of Iran, who are facing this situation every day. Thank you MyStealthyFreedom for sharing my interview.
She is sticking to her guns despite attempts from chess officials to silence her.
Susan Polgar, who chairs the women’s committee of the international chess governing body, told Paikidze to keep her objections to herself in a tense exchange on Twitter.
Polgar had previously told players to respect “cultural differences” and go along with wearing the hijab.
She then tried to win over sceptics by praising the “beautiful choices” of fabric on offer.
Other players have also threatened to boycott the contest, including Carla Heredia, a former Pan American champion from Ecuador.