Allegations of Islamophobic abuse at youth chess tournament


Following this month’s EU Youth Chess Tournaments in Austria, the father of three young Muslim players representing England has alleged his sons and wife were victims of physical and verbal abuse from certain members of the English delegation.

Yousuf, Ibraheem and Ieysaa bin-Suhayl (aged 13, 10 and 7 years respectively) from Cambridgeshire travelled to Mureck, Austria accompanied by their mother, a white Muslim convert who wears a headscarf, as part of a group organised by the English Chess Federation (ECF).

In a public appeal made last week, the father, Sohale Rahman, accused the ECF of failing its duty to care claiming that his wife was publicly spat and sworn at and physically abused and that his eldest son was left bleeding after being assaulted, the tensions rising to the point where an ECF official warned his wife not to go back to the hotel where the families were staying because he “could not guarantee her safety”.

Mr Rahman said the situation had escalated from the non-provision of halal food at the hotel. After the ECF failed to respond to emails regarding his sons’ halal dietary requirements and the family’s payment of approximately £2800 (plus the cost of the flights) which the ECF confirmed would include accommodation at full board (breakfast, lunch and dinner) Mr Rahman wrote to Phil Her, Director of Junior Chess and Education of the ECF:

Once again, my children have not been provided a suitable meal. They are being served pork and other non-halaal foods …You were advised at the outset about my family's dietary requirement - why is it not being met?

The ECF said it was taking the allegations “very seriously” and, it has been made known, its investigation will conclude that, while there was a falling-out between some of the parents on the trip, there was no racism or Islamophobia involved.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission will be launching a campaign to see that those responsible for Islamophobia are brought to justice and those that are responsible for dereliction of duty are held responsible.

Chair of IHRC, Massoud Shadjareh, said:

This is a shocking case of racism and Islamophobia and one that should not go unnoticed, the children are so young and should not be subjected to such hate.

Berny Torre