Iranian chess referee fears return to Tehran over hijab row

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An Iranian chess referee was accused of violating her country’s strict Islamic dress code after images emerged that appeared to show her not wearing a headscarf, known as a hijab.

Shohreh Bayat was recorded at the Women’s World Chess Championship in Shanghai wearing a hijab while presiding over the contest but at other times seemingly without her head covered.


Since Iran’s Islamic Revolution, women have been ordered to cover their hair for the sake of modesty. Violators are publicly admonished, fined or arrested.

Speaking to the BBC from Russia, Bayat said it’s now too risky to return and that she asked Iran’s chess federation to write a letter guaranteeing her safety on her return to Iran but they declined.

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