In December at the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan, pictures began to circulate of Khadam – Iran’s leading female chess player, ranked in the women’s world top 20 – competing without a headscarf for the first time.
Hijab is mandatory for women under Iranian law and Khadam explained To country that decision was partly sign of support for that protest gripped the country since the death of Mahsa Amini Even a step in being in custody and being true to yourself.
“To be honest, I never wore a hijab before playing in this tournament,” Khadam said. “I mean, I just put it on for the cameras because I was representing Iran.
“Somehow, I didn’t feel comfortable not being myself, so I just decided not to do it.”
and in an interview With Guardianshe said: “It felt like, let’s say, betraying people if I had gone with the headscarf. It didn’t feel right.
Amini was being detained by the country’s morality police after being arrested for allegedly breaching Iran’s strict dress code for women when she died in custody, sparking widespread protests against the Iranian government. Demonstrations took place.
Thousands of protesters have been arrested since then – more than 18,000, according to Iranian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in exile, and so far, at least 16 people have been sentenced to death, while four has been killed.
By not wearing the hijab on the international stage, Khadam has marked herself to the Iranian regime and has since moved to Spain with her husband, Ardeshir Ahmadi, 32, an Iranian film producer, TV host and businessman, and their 11 children. Month-old son Sam.
The 25-year-old, who was born Sarsadat Khademalsharieh but now prefers to be called Sara Khadem, had not participated in a major chess tournament for three years due to the pandemic and the birth of her son, so when she was invited An incident happened in Kazakhstan, it proved to be the most opportune moment to make his statement.
Ahmadi explained: “She told me, ‘I would love to go to the tournament but I will not wear the hijab.’ I said ‘Okay, if it’s your decision, I support you and we can go to Spain.’
Khadem is concerned about any possible retribution, both towards her families in Iran and from the Iranian community in Spain, but she is eager to return home when it is safe to do so and compete in a chess tournament. She plans to continue representing Iran.
Khadem said, “I think mixed is the best way to express my feelings right now.” “But honestly, before our son was born, we never considered moving away from Iran. Besides, I was traveling most of the year because of my chess career.
“You know, the situation in the Middle East is volatile and if things get bad, a lot of people need an alternative. I was never worried about it because I got a visa easily because of my chess career. but when sam was born everything changed
“I started thinking about living in a place where Sam could go out and play without us worrying, and lots of things like that. Spain seemed like the best option, and we’re glad to see her happy here. Spaniards are like Iranians in a way – they are very warm, and everyone is very nice to us.