Iran has banned brother and sister chess players from competing in tournaments.
The girl’s crime? Not wearing a hijab.
The boy’s? Even worse.
Dorsa Derakhshani, an 18-year-old member of the Iranian Women’s National Chess Team and the sixth world champion in under-18 games, was expelled from the national team for not covering her hair in the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival, which was held in late January and early February 2017, Iranian media quoted Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh, head of Iran’s Chess Federation, as saying.
Her 15-year-old brother, Borna Darakhshani was also expelled from the national team because of playing with an Israeli counterpart.
“The first step in dealing with them would be to deprive them from playing in Iran, and they won’t have a chance to be in the national team,” Pahlevanzadeh said.
He also said the issue is a matter of “national interest” and the Chess Federation will deal with the siblings in the “severest way possible.”
Dorsa is presently studying in Spain and had participated in the Gibraltar games independently. Her brother, who had also registered in the games on his own, played with Alexander Huzman, a grandmaster from Israel.
Update: In an interview in December, this is what Dorsa had to say about wearing a hijab:
We’ve all read about the highly controversial debate on the player’s obligation to wear a hijab in the upcoming world women’s championship in the beginning of 2017 in Tehran, Iran. Others complained about the prohibition to stay in the same closed room with another sexed person beyond marriage. What is your opinion?
I don’t think it’s a practical issue by any means. In fact, I was once wore a formal sort of hijab (we have different ones depending on the occasion) that was seriously disturbing me as it was bound too strong. On the other hand, in Iran people know and accept that foreigners are neither familiar (nor particularly willing) to wear a hijab so it’s ok to just use a scarf and cover your hair in some way. As for the second aspect mentioned, you can just leave the door open a tiny bit and everything is fine. I’m definitely not conservative in this issue but I think we shouldn’t make such a big deal out of it. Those who really oppose these measures for political reasons are free to stay away. This really doesn’t help anybody and would truly be a pity for the event itself!