Iranian chess player Sara Khadem, who appeared this week without a hijab at an international tournament in Kazakhstan, will not return to Iran and instead move to Spain, a Spanish newspaper reported.
Khadem has been participating at the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championship in Almaty, Kazakhstan without a headscarf – a violation of Iran’s laws governing female dress code.
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Khadem’s decision to appear without the hijab was seen as a gesture of support for anti-regime protests back home, which were triggered in mid-September following the death of 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini after her arrest by Tehran’s morality police for “inappropriate attire.”
Khadem, 25, plans to move to Spain with her husband, a film director, and their child, Spanish newspaper El País reported. The couple own an apartment in Spain, according to the report.
“She is aware that her life would be in danger if she returned to Iran because she has been shown playing without a head covering in several photographs,” El País quoted sources close to Khadem as saying.
Laws enforcing mandatory hijab wearing have become a flashpoint during the protests, with a string of sportswomen competing overseas appearing without their headscarves in public.
Khadem is ranked 804 in the world, according to the International Chess Federation website. The website for the December 25-30 event listed her as a participant in both the Rapid and Blitz competitions.