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This Top Iranian Woman Chess Player Who Competed Without A Hijab Is Moving To Spain For Her Safety

Sara Khadem, a 25-year-old Iranian chess player who ranks 10th in the country, played without a hijab during a competition in Kazakhastan for two consecutive days.

Sara Khadem, a 25-year-old Iranian chess player who currently ranks 10th in the country, played without a hijab during a competition in Kazakhastan for two consecutive days on Dec. 27 and 28.

sara khadem iran chess no hijab protest
Sara Khadem of Iran plays against Olga Girya of Russia at the Chess FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan – December 28, 2022. (Photo via REUTERS/Pavel Mikheyev)

Iranian women athletes are required to wear a covering on their heads and modest clothes when representing Iran in international competitions.

iran chess player no hijab sara khadem
Iranian chess player Sara Khadem competes, without wearing a hijab, in FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan December 26, 2022, on December 27, 2022. (Photo via Lennart Ootes/FIDE/via REUTERS)

Unprecedented protests are sweeping Iran following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died after she was detained by “morality” police over allegedly breaking the hijab law.

Out of fears for her and her family’s safety after she defied the dress code, Khadem – who is ranked 804 in the world – will not return home and will move to Spain, two sources told Spanish news outlet El Pais.

The sources added she will “never play for Iran again”.

sara khadem iran chess mahsa amini protest spain
Photo via @saraa_khadem / Instagram

It is uncertain Khadem has been granted political asylum or has already obtained Spanish residency.

Iranian athletes competing overseas have shown support to the antigovernment protests by removing their headscarves or refusing to sing the Iranian national anthem.

In October, an Iranian woman rock climber also competed without a headscarf at a tournament in South Korea.

Chess was banned in Iran after the 1979 Iranian Revolution by the Supreme leader of Iran at that time, Imam Khomeini.

Chess had been banned because it had originally been a gambling game.

Khomeini had called it a “diabolical game”, but lifted the ban on chess years later after being persuaded that the game was no longer consider gambling.

The current protests have been met with a violent crackdown from police, with at least 185 people dead, including teen girls Nika Shakarami and Sarina Esmailzadeh, who have also become the faces of the movement, and thousands more injured and arrested as of Oct. 12.

More on The Mahsa Amini Protests

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