When a brave soul stands up against injustices, we rarely hear about it – what is even more rare, is when someone stands up against Iran. Well, both has happened recently with the World champion Women’s Chess tournament in Iran. Nazi Paikidze hold the international Master and Woman Grandmaster titles and has become Junior champion multiple times in her youth. Needless to say, this Georgian – American is an incredibly brilliant young woman – but her rational mind does not stay on the chess table.
Iran has been chosen as the 2017 location to host the Women’s Chess World Championship – Both chess and women are an unusual find in the country. And by law, women must legally wear at least a hijab or a headscarf. Paididze decided that she will not wear the hijab and thinks “…it’s unacceptable to host a women’s World Championship in a place where women do not have basic fundamental rights and are treated as second-class citizens.” Because of this crazy requirement, Nazi is boycotting the event and has made a petition for others to do the same thing, “I am not anti-Islam or any other religion. I stand for freedom of religion and choice,” she says, “I’m protesting FIDE’s [the world chess federation] decision not because of Iran’s religion or people, but for the government’s laws that are restricting my rights as a woman.”
Standing up to the regime of intolerance toward their own women and foreign women has not gone without it’s own backfire. The women’s committee of international chess governing body, Susan Polgar, tried to keep Nazi quite by advising her to keep her opinions off of Twitter. She responded, “I already did. Thanks to Twitter this issue got a lot of attention as well.” To which Polgar responded, “Not the right position to insult me and members of @WOMChess when we are trying to help you” Showing the same poise and professionalism, Nazi showed no fear responding, “Nothing of what I said was a personal insult/attack to anyone but FIDE’s decision.”
It is a defining characteristic of oppression when a totalitarian regime forces their own citizen’s compliance – and also believes everyone else’s citizens must do the same. In this situation, they received resistance! No doubt in the name of women around the world – but specifically for Iranian women. In the past, women have complied without resistance – Karika Dronavalli, an Indian chess master tried to explain, “For a few days it was a bit awkward to play with the headscarf, but slowly I got used to it. I feel we need to respect their culture and customs.” This show for respect is a two way street, Miss Dronavalli – and oppression will not stop until we see more brave people stand up like Nazi Paikidze.