Women’s World Chess Championship

In Everything Else, Travel

UVU responds to Nazí Paikidze-Barnes’ reaction to Women’s World Chess Championship location. 

During the 87th General Assembly of The World Chess Federation (FIDE), Iran was chosen to organize the next tournament, Sept. 11-13.

As of 1980, Iranian law requires women to veil themselves in public. This law applies to locals and visitors. This inspired U.S. women’s champion, Nazí Paikidze-Barnes, to initiate a global boycott of the contest. Controversy came after an announcement that all competitors would be required to don the veil.

Screenshot of Paikidze-Barnes’ Instagram post

The Nevada native chess champion started a petition on change.org and has earned a total of 16,594 signatures. Utah Valley University is open to students from all over the world. Studies of religion and cultural integration are hallmarks of UVU’s focus on global engagement.

“A country’s laws are based in religion and culture,” said Caleb Probst, Freshman Computer Engineering student at UVU. “If people are going to visit another country they should follow the laws of the land.”

“If a country’s cultural requirements or laws violate your morals, then don’t go to that country. It’s okay to disagree, but you can choose to not visit a foreign country,” said David Livingston a freshman computer science major. Paikidze-Barnes spoke about her opinion on Instagram.

“I think it’s unacceptable to host a women’s World Championship in a place where women do not have basic fundamental rights and are treated as second-class citizens,” she wrote.T
he scholarship of UVU professor David Scott focuses on the relationship between religion, media and culture.

“To blanketly say the Hijab is oppressive is insulting and naive,” said Scott. “Some are likely oppressed, but others choose the veil,” said Scott.

Scott believes Paikidze-Barnes is projecting western culture onto Iranian culture. This projection is not uncommon.

“Americans are so focused on individualism they don’t even understand collectivism,” said Scott.The FIDE handbook claims the organization “rejects discriminatory treatment for national, political, racial, social or religious reasons or on account of sex.” (F.01(1)(2)) FIDE remains fixed in their decision for Tehran to organize the event.

“US Chess wholeheartedly supports Paikidze. She has taken a principled position of which we can be proud,” Board President Gary Walters said in a statement to The Telegraph. Hazards associated with travel to Iran may also be at play.

The U.S. State Department publishes travel warnings and restrictions on its website in an effort to inform U.S. citizens of the risks associated with travel around the world.

“Iranian authorities continue to unjustly detain and imprison U.S. citizens…on charges including espionage and posing a threat to national security.”

The travel warning continues, saying, “The U.S. government’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in Iran in the event of an emergency is extremely limited. U.S. citizens in Iran should ensure that they have updated documentation at all times and make their own plans in the event of an emergency.”

The competition is set for February 10-28, 2017, with the intent of a 64-player tournament. Yet some of the most prominent figures in the world of chess support Paikidze-Barnes’ boycott.

Originally published in print and online at The Review

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