Iranian chess grandmaster Atousa Pourkashiyan during a game against fellow Mitra Hejazipour

Exiled Iranian Chess Grandmasters Go Head To Head Under Foreign Flags

Wednesday, 09/13/2023

Images showing exiled Iranian chess grandmasters competing against one another has sparked strong reactions in the Persian-speaking online community as top players continue to flee the regime.

Atousa Pourkashiyan's game against fellow exiled Iranian Mitra Hejazipour at the FIDE World Women's Team Championship 2023 in Bydgoszcz, Poland, was a sad day for Iranians who see the game's best competing for different countries. 

Last year, Pourkashiyan was among the several female athletes across Iranian sport, who over recent years have chosen to shun the hijab on the world stage. The seven time Iranian women's champion, now competing for the US, played against Hejazipour Wednesday, who now represents France. She was expelled from the national team back in 2020 for refusal to wear the hijab.

Hejazipour, now known as the French chess queen, said: "While playing against Atousa, I wondered what has led us to a point where we are not even members of the same continent today?"

Also at the match was Sara Khadem al-Sharieh, who emigrated to Spain following a controversial game last year in which she competed for Iran without her headscarf, knowing she and her family could never return home after the bold statement in support of the protests in the wake of Mahsa Amini's murder in morality police custody.

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