Activists praise Kuwaiti chess champion for refusing to play Israeli opponent – Reuters

Fide Master Bader al-Hajri, one of Kuwait’s chess champions who secured first place in the Spanish championship of “San Sebastian” in 2015, withdrew from competitions on Tuesday because he refused to face an Israeli settler.

On social media, Arab activists hailed al-Hajri as a champion of “rejecting the normalization of Arab countries” with the Israeli regime by refusing to confront “an Israeli settler”.

The activist said they were “proud of him” while noting that Israelis must be “angry with him”.

“God bless him and God reward him well,” tweeted one Twitter user, with many others echoing similar sentiments.

This is not the first time that a Kuwaiti player has refused to face an Israeli opponent.

Last month, Kuwaiti fencer Mohamed al-Fadli withdrew from the World Fencing Championships held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to avoid facing an Israeli opponent.

Fadli also withdrew from an international tournament in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam, in September 2019 after the draw placed him in a group competing with an Israeli player.

In January, teenage Kuwaiti tennis player Muhammad al-Awadi received widespread praise for his support for the Palestinian cause after withdrawing from an international tennis tournament held in the United Arab Emirates to avoid facing an opponent Israeli.

Over the years, similar measures have been taken by dozens of players from Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Sudan, Libya, Algeria and Lebanon.

Meanwhile, the governments of Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Qatar and Kuwait also criticized the normalization agreements between Israel and four Muslim countries – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco – and expressed their unwavering support for the Palestinian cause.

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