Iranian chess player Sara Khadem competes in tournament without mandatory hijab

Sara Khadem of Iran sits in front of a chess board (REUTERS)
Sara Khadem of Iran sits in front of a chess board (REUTERS)

Iranian chess player Sara Khadem has broken her country’s strict dress code to compete in an international tournament without a hijab.

Khadem also known as Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, competed at the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

It came as anti-government demonstrations and worldwide protests were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

Miss Amini died in police detention after being arrested in Tehran by the so-called morality police, for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women by wearing a hijab too loosely

Iranian news outlets Khabarvarzeshi and Etemad said in reports on Monday that Miss Khadem was playing chess without a headscarf mandatory under Iran’s strict dress codes.

Photos posted by both outlets appeared to show her with no headscarf during the tournament. Khabarvarzeshi also posted a photo of her wearing a headscarf but without saying if it was taken at the same event.

Khadem, born in 1997 and also known as Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, is ranked 804 in the world, according to the International Chess Federation website. The website for the Dec. 25-30 event listed her as a participant in both the Rapid and Blitz competitions.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran has required women to wear the hijab in public places.

in 2017 Dorsa Derakhshani was banned from Iran’s national chess team for playing without wearing a headscarf so switched allegiances to the US.

Last month Iran sentenced an anti-government protester to death and handed jail terms to five others, according to reports by state media.

The ruling is thought to mark the first death sentence in the trials of those arrested for participating in protests that have swept Iran over in recent weeks, demanding an end to clerical rule.