Iranian chess referee fears ostracism over her activism

CNN   — 

Three years after fleeing Iran, chess referee Shohreh Bayat concerns being further ostracized after challenging the game’s governing body and its president, Russia’s former deputy prime minister, over her choice of clothing at a tournament in Oct.

Back in 2020, Bayat was criticized within Iran for not putting on the appropriate headscarf on the Women’s World Chess Championship in Tiongkok and Russia. She refused to bow to the regime’s stress but , as a result, has not really returned home out of anxiety about punishment.

Now, three years on, Bayat provides raised the hackles of the International Mentally stimulating games Federation (FIDE) as well as its president for putting on clothes in support of the Iranian protests as well as the people of Ukraine.

The 35-year-old Bayat, who now comes from London with her husband, recently officiated at the 2022 Fischer Random World Mentally stimulating games Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland, in October.

The tournament has been another opportunity for Bayat to officiate some of the sport’s biggest superstars, though it came at a difficult time since protests spread throughout her home country associated with Iran after the dying of Mahsa Amini .

The 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman died in mid-September after being detained by the country’s morality police, apparently for not abiding with the country’s conservative outfit code, sparking outrage around a range of grievances with the regime.

“It reminded me associated with my own story, ” Bayat told CNN. “So I made a decision to stand up for women’s rights in Serbia. During the tournament I wore a t-shirt with the motto of Iranian people ‘WomanLifeFreedom’ and I wanted to endure with them. ”

Bayat said that after the 1st day of wearing the t-shirt, a FIDE official asked her, unofficially, to not wear it.

In a statement sent to CNN, FIDE said that “arbiters at top events are required to dress in due decor and discretion” and that Bayat “disregarded immediate instructions given to her to stop wearing slogans or mottos. ”

According to Bayat, this kind of regulations are not present in FIDE’s arbiter handbook and she says no dress code was given for the event in Iceland.

The arbiter’s handbook does say officials must “follow the dress code” and they must be “dressed properly, helping to improve the picture of chess as a sport. ” CNN has reached out to FIDE to clarify clothes code that was expected for the October event.

Frustrated by the request to stop wearing the slogan, Bayat said she decided she was not breaking any rules so the lady wore it once again the next day.

Bayat states she was once again asked by the to take it away from, only this time she was told the request came from FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, who previously offered as Russia’s deputy prime minister and who attended the tournament in Iceland.

Bayat wearing the t-shirt during the tournament in October.

Bayat said Dvorkovich by no means spoke to her in person about the t-shirt, regardless of being in the same area as her whenever she wore it.

Dvorkovich, however , messaged her on WhatsApp – messages observed by CNN – to request Bayat not use formal FIDE events designed for “political purposes. ”

Angered by Dvorkovich’s request, Bayat states she quickly replied but then deleted her “emotional” reply.

Bayat then informed Dvorkovich she would not use the t-shirt the very next day, though she desired to do the “right matter. ”

Given that FIDE’s charter states that it is “committed to respecting all worldwide recognized human rights and shall strive to promote the security of these rights, ” Bayat said the lady decided she hadn’t violated any rule.

“I thought carefully, and I realized that it is far from me that was making chess political but Arkady, ” Bayat said.

“I had been following FIDE guidelines, but Arkady had been breaking them by forbidding me in order to stand up for women’s rights in Iran. ”

FIDE refuted any notion that will politics played a part in Dvorkovich’s request to Bayat.

“We were not judging the girl views or the girl activism, but the platform and moment the girl chose for it, ” FIDE told CNN.

The following day, Bayat, who has not noticed her parents since leaving Iran over three years ago, stated she bought a glowing blue and yellow outfit and wore it in support of the Ukrainian people fighting contrary to the Russian invasion, as well as in memory of the 176 people that were killed when Iran said it unintentionally shot straight down an Ukrainian airplane that crashed close to Tehran in 2020.

NEWCASTLE, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 11: Iranian chess arbiter Shohreh Bayat poses for a portrait in Newcastle, England on February 11, 2020. Ms. Bayat, an arbiter with the chess governing body FIDE, was presiding over a tournament in China in January when a picture of her appearing not to wear a hijab circulated in Iranian media. Commentary in the press and online accused her of flouting Iranian law, which requires women to wear a headscarf when appearing in public. Seeing this response, Ms. Bayat quickly grew afraid of returning to her country, worried she would be arrested. She is now staying with friends in the United Kingdom, where she says she is considering her options, unsure of what the future holds. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

The Iranian chess referee seeking UK asylum
04: 30 – Resource: CNN

She says nothing was said to the girl about the blue plus yellow outfit but , since leaving the particular tournament in Iceland, Bayat told CNN that she hasn’t been invited to a different FIDE event, inspite of the organization recognizing the girl as the best female arbiter in Europe in 2022.

Bayat said the lady was initially removed from the arbiter commission – a registry of most qualified arbiters – and, in an information seen by CNN, a top FIDE recognized told her it was due to her outfits within Iceland.

Her title is currently listed on the database and FIDE told CNN that Bayat was still quite definitely in contention in order to officiate future activities but that it offers “more International Arbiters than world events, so we need to establish some rotation. ”

FIDE President’s hyperlinks with Kremlin

FIDE Chief executive Dvorkovich was first selected in 2018 and was re-elected for the second term within August. Previously, the 50-year-old served as Russia’s Deputy Leading Minister between 2012-2018 following a stint since the Kremlin’s top financial adviser.

The Kremlin welcomed Dvorkovich becoming reelected as FIDE president last year, yet he has always managed his proximity towards the Kremlin would not influence his work for FIDE and noted that he was one of the most mature establishment figures in Russia to question the particular war in Ukraine.

However , Bayat told CNN she believes Dvorkovich is not accepting critique of Iran because of Russia’s links with the country – Iran continues to support Russia with military help for the war in Ukraine.

She notes FIDE’s handling of the Iranian Chess Federation as further evidence of this particular.

Dvorkovich wrote a notice urging Iran to adhere to FIDE’s regulations within 2020 after it allegedly told the players to not play against Israeli opponents.

The acting chief executive of Iran’s Chess Federation responded, saying Iran has continuously been in compliance with FIDE’s rules and statutes, and that the particular athletes themselves decide in which events to participate.

Despite getting given a caution, Iranian players are nevertheless forfeiting games and FIDE has not yet taken concrete action.

“I find it extremely ironic that FIDE finds my human rights t-shirt political, but when the Iran Mentally stimulating games Federation repeatedly causes its players not to play against Israel, FIDE is noiseless and turns a blind eye to that particular, ” Bayat stated.

Asked by CNN whether it was assured Dvorkovich was working without pressure from Russian authorities when it comes to Bayat’s support from the Iranian protests, FIDE said it got total and complete faith in your pet.

“While we respect Ms. Bayat’s politics stance and actions, any FIDE officials need to follow politics neutrality while on duty, and of all the standard positions one can keep, that of an arbiter is the one that demands higher standards of integrity, neutrality, and discernment, ” FIDE stated in a statement in order to CNN.

“No issue how noble or uncontroversial the cause is, doing activism from that role will be inappropriate and unprofessional. She was certainly asked not to wear any slogans while acting as an arbiter and explained the reasons why. ”

Bayat’s activism has attracted the attention of the biggest titles in the sport following the Iranian chess referee messaged about the incident again upon Sunday.

US grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura lately tweeted “#WomenLifeFreedom #IStandWithUkraine” in response to a message about Bayat’s tweet .

At the same time, chess superstar Magnus Carlsen’s coach Philip Heine Nielsen tweeted : “The chess entire world needs to make up its mind. On which part do we in fact stand? ”

Bayat, who now also works in primary schools teaching mentally stimulating games, said the assistance she’s received has been “heartwarming, ” as it was when the lady first sought asylum in England back in 2020.

“I was initially looking to support Iranian women. I think that’s essential and it’s excellent to see other people support me for doing it right thing, ” she said.