Shohreh Bayat, aged 32, was a referee at the International Chess Championship being conducted jointly by China and Russia. She has said she is afraid to return to Iran. This was after the Irani press, and state media published photographs of her officiating at a game without a hijab. Wearing a hijab is a mandatory requirement for all women in Iran.

Shohreh Bayat is a prominent Iranian sportswoman. She had been invited to be a referee at the International Chess Championship. The Chess Championship is being conducted jointly by both Russia and China.

CNN has reported that Shohreh Bayat says she fears arrest after a photograph was taken during the event and circulated online in Iran.


The controversy overshadowed her achievement. This erupted after a photograph was published showing Ms. Bayat without a hijab. In her defense, Ms. Bayat says she was wearing the headscarf, but the picture is already circulated in Iran.

The chess master has been bombarded by hate mail and fears she could be arrested if she returns home.

Ms. Bayat had told BBC that whenever she turned on her mobile, her picture was everywhere. As per her, many people have accused her of wanting to protest against the hijab.


Despite a request by Ms. Bayat, Iran's Chess Federation had refused to write a letter granting her safety. Instead, the federation pressurized her to write an apology.

She refused to do so. Iran considers not wearing a headscarf a very serious issue. Many people are in jail because of it. It is possible she feels that they would like to make an example of her.

Bayat says she does not agree with the hijab. Despite this, she had been wearing a headscarf during the earlier matches. has reported that after the Irani Chess Federation asked her to write an apology, she stopped wearing the hijab altogether.

Support for Bayat

Nick Short, the International Chess Federation (FIDE) Vice President, has spoken out in support of Bayat on Twitter. He has said that she has done a great job and is an excellent ambassador for her country. Bayat is one of the many Iranians sportspersons who have crossed swords with the authorities over the hijab. Just about a month back, Irani chess grandmaster Mitra Hejaziour was expelled from the national team for not wearing the hijab. This was at the World Rapid and Blitz Championship in Moscow.

Last word

Bayat's decision not to go back to Iran, which recently fired missiles at bases in Iraq, shows Iran in poor light. The decision comes on the heels of action by Iran's only female Olympic medallist Kimia Alizadeh,21.

She announced that she had left her homeland. She felt the authorities were using her as a propaganda tool and thus would no longer wear the Hijab.

The approach of the Iranian sportswomen will be a bitter pill to swallow for the Iranian government already embroiled in a spat with the United States.

Shohreh Bayat Iranian sportswoman fears arrest.