Iran is often in the news for the wrong reasons. Recently the regime was involved in a spat with the United States over the killing of its leading General. It retaliated by firing missiles at two bases in Iraq. The government is also facing public agitation after a Ukrainian airliner was shot down by an Iranian missile over Tehran airport just after takeoff. The majority of the passengers killed were of Canadian origin. The Islamic Republic of Iran is again in the news. Reuters, the news agency, reported that an Iranian chess referee named Shohreh Bayat has refused to return home as she fears for her life.

This was after a controversy emanated with the circulation of a photograph taken at a game that showed the referee with her head uncovered.

Iran is an Islamic dictatorship, and all athletes who play games and represent Iran are mandated to wear the headdress or the hijab. Failure to follow the guidelines laid down can lead to a woman being arrested and punished. The Iranian referee was officiating in a game of chess at the Russian far-eastern city of Vladivostok. She was refereeing the second leg of the World Chess Championship.

Shohreh Bayat

32-year-old Shohreh Bayat was operating as the events chief arbiter. This was a senior role for the Iranian lady. It was meant to be a career highlight for her. Unfortunately, her achievement has been clouded by the circulation of a photograph, which showed her officiating a game without wearing her headscarf. The Iranian government is very strict that their athletes follow the dress code laid down by the Islamic government while playing games abroad.

After the storm blew up, Ms. Bayat said that Iran's sports federation had instructed her to write "something" in response to the allegations. This, she said, amounted to an apology and defense of Iran's dress code. She refused to comply with this request. Now, she feels that it is too risky for her to return home to her family.

Fears of Ms. Bayat

It is worthwhile to mention that the fears of Shohreh Bayat are not without foundation.

It is well known that there are many people in prison in Iran for not wearing the headscarf. The Iranian government considers this a very serious issue. Ms. Bayat feels that perhaps the Iranian government would like to make an example of her. The NY Post has reported that Ms. Bayat fears for her life if she returns home.

The International Chess Federation has not commented on the statement of Ms. Bayat as they feel that the Iranian referee has not broken any of their rules. It is a matter of regret that the Iranian government has ignored the achievements of one of their women on the international scene and is more concerned with the dress she is wearing.

Last word

Many Iranian athletes and players are in jail for not wearing the headscarf, and some have decided not to go back.

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