By Sana Elouazi
By Sana Elouazi
Rabat – The Ukrainian Anna Muzychuk, the current rapid and blitz chess world champion, announced that she won’t participate in a speed chess championship held in Saudi Arabia, after she was told she would be forced to wear an abaya.
“In a few days I am going to lose two World Champion titles – one by one,” she wrote on a Facebook post on Saturday, December 23.
“Just because I decided not to go to Saudi Arabia, not to play by someone’s rules, not to wear an abaya, not to be accompanied getting outside, and altogether not to feel myself a secondary creature,” Muzychuk explained.
In 2016, the 27-year-old player won the World Chess Championship in Doha, Qatar, as well as the World Blitz Chess Championship.
“Exactly one year ago I won these two titles and was about the happiest person in the chess world, but this time I feel really bad. I am ready to stand for my principles and skip the event, where in five days I was expected to earn more than I do in a dozen of events combined,” she added.
Muzychuk is not the only one to take a stand against the policies of the Arabian kingdom. Many leading chess players have previously contested the hosting of the tournament by Saudi Arabia.
The media outlet i24News announced in November that about 150 players were planning to boycott the competition.
Furthermore, the Israeli Chess Federation announced on Tuesday that its seven Israeli players were denied visas for Saudi Arabia.
“To organize a chess tournament in a country where basic human rights aren’t valued is horrible,” said Hikaru Nakamaru, the US number three player.
“Chess is a game where all different sorts of people can come together, not a game in which people are divided because of their religion or country of origin,” he added.
In 2016, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh has ruled that chess is forbidden in Islam, saying that it is “included under gambling and it is a waste of time as well as a cause for hatred and enmity between players.”