An Iranian chess player who moved to Spain in January after competing without a hijab and receiving an arrest warrant at home was said to have been granted Spanish citizenship on Wednesday.
When Sara Khadem, also known as Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, participated in the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Kazakhstan in late December of last year, she refused to wear the headscarf mandated by Iran’s strict dress requirements.
Iranian hijab restrictions came under fire when Mahsa Amini, an Iranian-Kurdish woman, 22, passed away while in the custody of the morality police in the middle of September.
According to the 26-year-old, she does not regret taking part in the anti-clerical leadership protest movement in her country.
According to the official Spanish gazette, the government decided to award citizenship to Khadem on Tuesday “taking into account the special circumstances” of her situation.
Following her arrival in Spain, Khadem wrote on Instagram, “My emigration is a family decision. I have not applied for asylum here.
“Because of my sporting successes and my husband’s multiple nationalities, I was never concerned about a right of residence abroad.”
The chess grandmaster could be able to reach new sporting heights with the help of her newly adopted nation.
“For the last three years, I was barred from leaving the country. As a result, I missed important tournaments and championships,” she has pointed out.
Despite her “new beginnings”, the women’s world No. 17, however, hasn’t ruled out a return to her home country.
“Iran remains my primary home. I will certainly return to my homeland with my family as soon as the appropriate time comes,” she said.
According to DW, Khadem is the fifth Iranian chess star to emigrate in recent years, joining Mitra Hejazipour, Ghazal Hakimifard, Atousa Pourkashiyan, and Dorsa Derakhshani who emigrated for various reasons.
Pourkashiyan and Derakhshani now play for the US team, Hakimifard for Switzerland, and Hejazipour for France.