An Iranian chess player who fled to Spain after taking part in an international tournament without the mandatory hijab said Sunday that she is “not me” when she wears a headscarf. In December, 25-year-old Sara Khadem appeared without a hijab — which is mandatory for women under Iranian law — at the International Chess Federation (FIDE) World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championship in Almaty, Kazakhstan. His move was seen by some as a show of support for the protests that have gripped Iran since the September 16 death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
Amini was arrested by Tehran’s morality police for violating the country’s strict dress code for women.
Khadem, also known as Sarsadat Khademalsharih, moved to Spain in early January with her husband, film director Ardeshir Ahmadi, and their 10-month-old son, Sam.
In an interview published Sunday in Spanish newspaper El Pais, Khadem said she only wore the hijab before the tournament in Almaty “if there were cameras, because I was representing Iran”.
“But I’m not myself with the veil, I don’t feel good, and so I wanted to put an end to that situation. And I decided not to wear it anymore,” she said in her first public comments since visiting Spain. .
The newspaper said the interview was conducted “in a secret location for security reasons”.
Iranian female athletes must adhere to the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women, mainly covering their heads, when representing their country at international events.
Khadem said he hoped his relatives in Iran “will not be retaliated against because if anyone interprets my work, it is me, not them, since the decision is mine alone”.
He said, since the birth of his son, he started thinking about moving abroad.
“I started appreciating living in a place where Sam could go out on the road and play without us worrying and stuff like that. Spain emerged as the best option, thinking of Sam,” he said.
Khadem said he wants to continue representing Iran in chess tournaments and plans to become an online streamer, presenting chess shows.
“I’ve had this idea for years, but I didn’t want to veil it from Iran,” he said.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)
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