Mauritanian chess player withdraws from Junior World Cup; “will not play against Israel”

A 14-year-old Mauritanian chess player withdrew from the Junior World Cup after being drawn against an Israeli player. Abdel Rahim Al-Talib Muhammad, who is ranked 47th out of 215 players, insisted he did not want to face an opponent who represents a country “which in reality does not exist”. Israel has often been accused of using its international sports presence as a means to violate human rights.

Mauritanian chess player withdraws from Junior World Cup

After retiring from the Junior World Chess Cup, Abdel Rahim Al-Talib Muhammad explained his bold move to the media. According to information retrieved from Middle East Monitor, Abdel declared: “I decided to retire because I refuse to play with a representative of a fictitious country which in reality does not exist. Abdel’s position was supported by the Mauritanian National League, which also honored him on his return.

“We salute our dear son Abdel Rahman Al-Talib Mohammed, this exceptional genius who honored our country and our people by declaring a boycott of the sinister Zionist face,” said Ghulam Al-Hajj, president of the Mauritanian National League. Israel is often accused of putting up a “facade” when it comes to international sports, as they have been accused of using such events to hide their human rights violations. Like Abdel, other Arab athletes have also publicly criticized Israel and other states for using sport to carry out their diplomatic initiatives.

Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics

Similar to Abdel Rahim Al-Talib Muhammed, Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine retired from the men’s 73kg event at the recent Tokyo Olympics. He did so after realizing he was shot at Israeli fighter Tohar Butbul in the second round. This was not the first time the judoka has pulled out of a fight against the Israeli fighter, as he also did at the 2019 World Championships in Japan.

After withdrawing from his fight against Butbul, Nourine defended his position by saying that defending his Palestinian Arab friends against Israel was more important to him. “We worked a lot to reach the Olympics… but the Palestinian cause is more important than all of this,” Nourine said.


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