An Iranian chess player has become the latest sportswoman from the Islamic Republic to participate in an international competition without the country’s mandatory headscarf.
Iranian news outlets Khabarvarzeshi and Etemad, in reports on Monday, said Sara Khadem had competed at the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan, without the hijab – a headscarf mandatory under Iran’s strict dress codes.
Khadem, born in 1997 and also known as Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, is ranked 804 in the world, according to the International Chess Federation website. The website for the Dec. 25-30 event listed her as a participant in both the Rapid and Blitz competitions.
Photos posted by both outlets appeared to show her with no headscarf during the tournament. Khabarvarzeshi also posted a photo of her wearing a headscarf but without saying if it was taken at the same event.
A second Iranian chess player, Atousa Pourkashiyan, also competed at the event without a headscarf, according to Sky News.
The public defiance comes after months of deadly protests in Iran after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini who died in police custody in September after being arrested by the “morality police” for not wearing the country’s mandatory headscarf required of females.
Women have played a prominent role in the protests, removing, and in some cases, burning headscarves.
In October, an Iranian climber competed without her headscarf at an event in South Korea and was later placed on house arrest by authorities. In December, it was reported that her family home had been demolished.
Several national sports teams have refrained from singing the national anthem, notably before Iran’s opening match at the soccer World Cup. The team sang ahead of their second and third games.
Iranian authorities have cracked down hard on the protests, which they have declared riots fomented by foreign adversaries. The Iranian regime has carried out executions in response to the protests, and it is believed that at least 24 people are currently facing death over their involvement.
According to the activist HRANA news agency, 507 protesters had been killed as of Thursday, including 69 minors. Sixty-six members of the security forces have also been killed.
State officials have said up to 300 have been killed, including members of the security forces.
Reuters contributed to this report.