Saturday, October 1, 2016

FIDE To Meet With Iran To Discuss "Player Comfort" At Women's World Chess Championship

The easy solution is for Iran to demonstrate how diplomatically magnanimous it is by waiving this horrid law's forced enactment on non-Muslim female visitors to the country.

What is the U.S. Chess Federation's position on this horrendous imposition of a Muslim religious rule on non-Muslim players?  It would be like all players coming into the United States to play in a chess tournament being forced to wear a crucifix around their necks upon pain of prosecution and threat of being jailed because - you know - this is the "Christian culture" of our country!

Well, you all know or should know that is horse manure and would never fly in the world today despite certain "christian" factions in the United States who would like to turn this country into a theocracy, but this is no different from Iran forcing a head scarf upon non-Muslim females who, if they want to play in the championship, have no choice but to go to Iran.  That sucks.

I hope ALL of the female players will choose not to play if they are required to wear a head scarf.

Female chess players protest wearing hijab at Iran world championship 

By Elizabeth Roberts, for CNN
Updated 7:35 AM ET, Fri September 30, 2016

(CNN) - Some of the world's top female chess players are upset that the next world championship will be held in Iran, where players are expected to wear head scarves.

The US women's champion, Nazi Paikidze-Barnes, will not be taking part in the event in Tehran next February due to her concern over the issue. Meanwhile former Pan American champion Carla Heredia -- who did not qualify for the Tehran tournament -- also called for the 64 women who are playing there to protest against the hijab rule.

"Iran has hosted chess tournaments before and women were always forced to wear a hijab," Paikidze-Barnes told CNN.

"We don't see this event being any different, forced hijab is the country's law." This, she said, is "religious and sexist discrimination."

She added: "If the venue of the championship is not changed, I will not be participating. I am deeply upset by this. I feel privileged to have qualified to represent the US at the Women's World Chess Championship and to not be able to due to religious, sexist, and political issues is very disappointing."

World Sports Issue

Meanwhile Heredia, originally from Ecuador and now living in Texas, said: "This is not only about 64 players, this is a world issue, a women's rights issue. That's why I'm speaking up. Sports should be free of this type of discrimination."
She said she hoped Iran would agree for women to play without hijabs without fear of punishment.

Islamic dress 

Islamic codes of behavior and dress are strictly enforced in Iran. In public places, women must cover their heads with a headscarf.

Susan Polger, the chairman of FIDE's Commission for Women's Chess, has so far not received any complaints from players on the matter. However, she said, if complaints come in, the commission will handle them "professionally and diplomatically."

Polger, who is retired from competing, said she has never had to play a tournament wearing a headscarf. However, she said that speaking personally, she would not have an issue with wearing one out of respect for a country's culture. [This isn't about "culture" - it's about misogynistic systemic oppression of females.  Of course, GM Polgar is - or should be - well aware of that.  She's been subject to plenty of misogynistic systemic oppression during her own playing career - like in 1986 ...]

Why Iran? 

Iran was the only country which made a proposal to host the event, a World Chess Federation (FIDE) spokeswoman told CNN in a statement. She added that since there were no objections from any of the other 150 national chess federations -- including the US (what she did tell you is that it's run by a majority of old men with 19th century ideas and the female players are NOT consulted] -- FIDE's General Assembly accepted the proposal.

FIDE is "reviewing all possible solutions for the players' comfort and will discuss all the issues with the organizers in Iran during meetings in the next few weeks," said the spokeswoman, adding that the organization had so far not received any complaints from players competing. [I don't believe this - but even if this is true, it would be because players fear making "official" complaints and being blacklisted by FIDE, which routinely punishes players who "do not go along."]

The irony that nobody is talking about is that if it were a men's knock-out championship, the male players wouldn't be forced to alter their appearances in any way.  Where is the fairness?  Where is the equality?

Top Female Chessplayers Threaten Boycott of World Championship Scheduled In Mysogynist Iran

My first knowledge of and comments about this outrage were made in the post immediately below this one earlier today, but really, I doubt my loyal readers would have to read my comments in order to know where I stand on this subject.
This article is from the Guardian:

'We won't wear hijabs': Chess queens threaten to boycott world championships in Iran after being told they MUST wear Islamic headscarfs

  • Female chess players will have to wear hijab at a 2017 tournament in Iran 

  • US champion Nazi Paikidze threatened to pull out of the games 
    in Tehran

  • Pan American champion Carla Heredia also voiced her anger at the move

  • All women in Iran must wear hijab if not they will face arrest or punishment

Top women chess players are threatening to boycott the world championship in Iran because they will be forced to wear hijabs.

Female Grandmasters will risk arrest if they do not cover up to compete in the strict Middle Eastern country due to host the knock-out tournament next year. 

The World Chess Federation, known by its French acronym Fide, has now been accused of failing to stand up for women’s rights after telling players to accept the laws and respect ‘cultural differences’, The Telegraph reported.

US women's champion Nazi Paikidze said: ‘It is absolutely unacceptable to host one of the most important women's tournaments in a venue where, to this day, women are forced to cover up with a hijab.

‘I understand and respect cultural differences. But, failing to comply can lead to imprisonment and women's rights are being severely restricted in general. It does not feel safe for women from around the world to play here.’

She added: ‘If the situation remains unchanged, I will most certainly not participate in this event.’

The headscarves have been mandatory for women in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.  The strict regulation is enforced by the country’s ‘morality police’ and any woman found not wearing one in public faces arrest, a fine or public reprimand.

The UK government warns women travelling to Iran of the ‘strictly enforced’ dress code and says ladies must cover their heads with a scarf in public and wear trousers or long skirts.

Former Pan American champion Carla Heredia, from Ecuador, added: ‘No institution, no government, nor a Women's World Chess Championship should force women to wear or to take out a hijab.

‘This violates all what sports means. Sport should be free of discrimination by sex, religion and sexual orientation.’

American Grandmaster Susan Polgar, chairman of Fide's Commission for Women's Chess, has said the players need to respect ‘cultural differences’.

She said: ‘When I visited different places with different cultures, I like to show my respect by dressing up in their traditional style of clothing. No one asked me to do it. I just do it out of respect.

‘I personally would have no issues with wearing a head scarf (hijab) as long as it is the same to all players.

‘I cannot speak on behalf of others but from my personal conversations with various players in the past year, they had no real issues with it.’

Fide did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily Mail.

Forced to Wear Hijab or Not Play Chess

There I was, quietly enjoying reading the news online this morning and all of a sudden I see this article (below).  What the BLEEP, I said out loud.  Now my day is ruined.

This is absolutely pathetic - and enraging.  And GM Susan Polgar - SHAME ON YOU.  You are endorsing FIDE screwing over female chessplayers just like it screwed you over in 1986.  Because - you know - it's the "culture."  Condoning and actively supporting the coercion of non-Muslim women to wear a symbol of religious repression and misogyny may be part of your "culture," GM Polgar, but it isn't part of mine.

Article at PJ Media


Sports competitors are often asked to conform to the rules of the countries they visit.  That might mean eating local cuisine or simply driving on the opposite side of the road.

For one elite chess player, embracing one country's religious customs isn't an option. And she may not be alone.

U.S. women's chess champion Nazi Paikidze-Barnes won't appear at February's world championships to be held in Tehran. Female players will be expected to wear a hijab, which is mandatory by Iranian law.  That isn't acceptable to her:
If the venue of the championship is not changed, I will not be participating. I am deeply upset by this. I feel privileged to have qualified to represent the US at the Women's World Chess Championship and to not be able to due to religious, sexist, and political issues is very disappointing.
Paikidze-Barnes' may have company soon enough. Former Pan American champion Carla Heredia wants the 64 female players slated to participate in the event to protest the mandatory hijab garb as well.

"Sports should be free of this type of discrimination," Heredia explained.

The Islamic Revolution of 1979 led to Iranian women being ordered to wear hijabs in public or face punishment. [Unless you were born, dear reader, AFTER the so-called "Revolution," and so are not aware that Iran once had a modern secular society in which women were equal partners, movers and shakers, women in Iran were never FORCED to wear a head covering.  The "Revolutionary Guard" actively sought a return to the DARK AGES for all females in Iran - you know - RULE BY THE PENIS.  Let's call it what it is - it's religious bigotry of Iranian males being forced upon non-Iranian non-Muslim females.  It is also a violation of everybody's fundamental right to have freedom of conscience and freedom of - and from - religion.  It is disgusting. ]

For Heredia, having the event in Iran means more than wearing hijabs. "The obligation to use hijab is one issue, another one is that women can't share room with a male if she is not married to him," she said.

Susan Polgar, chair of Fide's Commission for Women's Chess, said the hijab ruling shouldn't be an issue. It's a matter of respecting local culture, Polgar says, adding the dress code will apply to all players.

Sporting events are often ways for cultures to find common ground. Even as the Third Reich rose in Germany the world came together in Berlin for the 1936 Olympic Games.

We live in much more fractured times. And examples of sexist treatment in Iran are now commonplace thanks to the web and media outlets.  It will be interesting to see if women's rights groups rally to the chess players' side on the matter. On the surface, it's a glaring example of infringing on a woman's right to free expression. Yet these very same groups aren't always vocal about misogynistic practices in the Islamic world.

Will the chess player's protest become a cause celebre among feminists? Or will they stay mostly silent and let the events play out over the coming weeks?
Either way, their actions may speak volumes.  

Note to author Christian Toto:  Don't confuse lack of knowledge about this OUTRAGE and therefore LACK OF ACTION with lack of caring on the part of women's organizations.  Chess is not a publicized sport in the United States and in general people who follow chess (mostly males) often refer dismissively to "women's chess," - you know, like it's the equivelent of second grade tiddly-winks.  

And, Christian Toto, until you've walked a mile in a professional female chessplayer's shoes, you have NO FRIGGING IDEA what you are talking about.  For too many female chessplayers, this event is the ONLY opportunity they will have of making some decent money, or even just getting out of their home countries for a once-in-a-lifetime trip, even if they get bounced out in the first round.  Principles are much easier to live by when one is well fed and has money in the bank.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

"Queen of Katwe" Movie Review in the New York Times

It was only a matter of time before this story was turned into a movie.  Some of you may remember some years back the big splash of publicity of young female chessplayer from Africa received - Phiona Mutesi.  I wrote about her in 2011.

She had her "15 minutes" of fame and was feasted and courted, and then it all faded away.  The movie should, however, renew interest in this young lady and the plight of other young women and girls just like her around the world.

Review: In 'Queen of Katwe,' a Pawn Finds Her Crown Through Chess

  •  NYT Critics’ Pick
  • Directed by Mira Nair
  • BiographyDramaSport
  • PG
  • 2h 4m

“Irresistible” is one of those adjectives that critics should handle with utmost care. No matter how universally charming or winning a movie or a performance might seem to be, there is always a chance that somebody, somewhere, will be able to resist it. For all I know that may be the case with “Queen of Katwe,” but if there is anyone out there capable of remaining unmoved by this true-life triumph-of-the-underdog sports story, I don’t think I want to meet that person. [Click the link to read the rest of the review.]
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