CPL T20 2023

Iranian chess player receives Spanish nationality after hijab protest

Sara Khadem, the Iranian chess player who gained international attention for competing without wearing a hijab, has been granted Spanish nationality, according to Spain’s Minister of Justice.

Khadem, also known as Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, participated in the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in December 2022, held in Almaty, Kazakhstan. During the tournament, she made headlines for not wearing a hijab, which is mandatory in Iran, leading to an arrest warrant being issued against her in her home country.

After the championship, Khadem decided to remain in Spain, where she had been residing since the event. Her decision to compete without a hijab was part of a broader movement of sportswomen challenging Iran’s conservative dress code and anti-government protests that began in September of the previous year. These protests were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman who died in police custody after being detained for not adhering to the country’s dress code.

In consideration of the unique circumstances surrounding Khadem’s situation, Spain’s Council of Ministers decided to grant her Spanish nationality through a naturalisation letter, as announced by Pilar Llop, the Minister of Justice. This decision was regarded as exceptional, recognizing the challenges Khadem faced in her home country due to her public act during the chess championship.

In January, Sara Khadem had the opportunity to meet with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who expressed admiration for her actions and considered her an inspiration. Prime Minister Sánchez took to Twitter to acknowledge the importance of women athletes and their positive impact on the world.

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