Absent, but not forgotten. The Women’s World Chess Championship is currently taking place in Iran from February 10th to March 5th—and the reigning American female chess champion is conspicuously absent. U.S. chess phenom Nazi Paikidize-Barnes, 22, made headlines last year when she said she would rather boycott the world chess championship in Tehran than subscribe to Islamic dress, “even if it means missing one of the most important competitions of my career.”
“Some consider a hijab part of culture,” Paikidze-Barnes said in a statement announcing her decision. “But, I know that a lot of Iranian women are bravely protesting this forced law daily and risking a lot by doing so. That’s why I will NOT wear a hijab and support women’s oppression.”
All women in Iran are required to wear headscarves, a law that is enforced with an iron grip. About 40,000 cars were confiscated in the first half of 2015 because drivers or passengers were not wearing their headscarves properly. Many women were pulled over and beaten on the ground, only to be arrested afterwards.
Some Muslim women’s rights activists have pushed back in support of Paikidze-Barnes, with former Wall Street Journal reporter Asra Q. Nomani describing an op-ed attacking the chess star as “tragic because it uses women to tell other women to shut up.” Nomani wrote against “Iran’s hijab fetish” in The Washington Post last October.
Nomani also previously co-wrote an op-ed with Arab female journalist Hala Arafa in December 2015, which challenged the idea that Islamic scriptures require women to wear head coverings. “To us, the ‘hijab’ is a symbol of an interpretation of Islam we reject that believes that women are a sexual distraction to men, who are weak, and thus must not be tempted by the sight of our hair. We don’t buy it. This ideology promotes a social attitude that absolves men of sexually harassing women and puts the onus on the victim to protect herself by covering up,” they wrote.
Out of the mouths of babes. The winning performance at a recent Palestinian youth dancing competition in Nablus called for violence against Israel and featured the lyrics “jihad is needed, pull the trigger,” the watchdog organization Palestinian Media Watch reported Monday.
The event took place at the Yafa Cultural Center, which is funded by Germany, Norway, and the European Union itself. The winning dance was performed by 14-year-old Ru’a Ahmed Sa’id Hamdan to the song “Pull the Trigger,” which was previously broadcast on a Palestinian Authority television channel in 2010.
Hamdan and the competition’s top two runners-up received trophies bearing a map of “Palestine” that encompassed the entirety of Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Incitement to violence against Israel is a recurring theme in music promoted by the Palestinian Authority. During the ruling Fatah party’s conference late last year, an official PA television channel repeatedly played a song calling “to free the state from the hands of the Zionists” and to “slice open the enemy’s chest, slice it.”
The New York Times reported in October 2015—at the start of the so-called “knife intifada”—that violent, “nationalistic” tracks were dominating Palestinian airwaves, with one young listener saying the tunes make him “boil inside” and prepare him to throw stones at Israeli soldiers. The songs feature lyrics such as “stab the Zionist and say God is great” and “say hello to being a martyr,” and their accompanying videos often contain graphic imagery.
The drone was intercepted before it entered Israeli airspace and landed harmlessly in the sea.
“The IDF will not allow any violation of [Israel’s] airspace and will operate with determination against any attempt to do so,” the military said in a statement.
No details were publicized about the size or design of the drone. Hamas is yet to release a statement regarding the incident, although it is widely reported the organisation was responsible for launching the drone.
Hamas has previously been suspected of launching UAVs towards Israel. Last September, the IDF intercepted a drone heading for Israeli territory. In June, a UAV crashed close to the Gaza border fence and drones were launched from Gaza during Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014. Last year, Israeli authorities thwarted an attempt to smuggle drone models and disassembled drone parts into Gaza via the postal system. (via BICOM)