Mauritanian chess player refuses to play against Israel in Junior World Cup

A 14-year-old Mauritanian chess player has pulled out of the Junior World Cup because the draw set him up to face an Israeli player.

“I decided to retire, because I refuse to play with a representative of a fictional country that in reality does not exist,” Abdel Rahim Al-Talib Muhammad said, according to Middle East Monitor.

Abdul Rahim Al-Talib ranked 47th out of 215 players in the world.

The Mauritanian National League welcomed his decision and honored him upon his return to the country.

“A young Mauritanian boy has more courage and wisdom than entire Arab regimes. Palestine loves you too, Abdel Rahim,” Palestinian author Ramzy Baroud wrote on Twitter.

Israel is often accused of using its presence in international sports and cultural events as a means to ‘sportswash’ its human rights violations. Other Arab athletes have taken public stances against the normalization of the relations under the guise of diplomacy in sportsmanship.

During the Tokyo Olympics, Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine withdrew from the 73kg men’s event at the Tokyo Olympics after he found out he would have to face Israeli fighter Tohar Butbul in the second round.

Abdel Rahim is lauded as an ‘African hero’ for taking a stand against Israel by pro-Palestinian activists.