A petition of 130,000 is demanding that basketball allow hijab
FIFA, the international football association, lifted its ban on hijab in 2014 (AFP/File)
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Should women be allowed to play international sport in hijab? According to the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the answer so far is no.
The body has a strict ban on headgear in the sport, despite a petition of over 130,000 names urging them to change the rules.
It means women who wear headscarves and Sikh men who wear turbans can’t compete at professional level in basketball. Although FIBA temporarily suspended the ban – which it says is for safety purposes, they’ve so far failed to make the change permanent.
But young Muslim women are hitting back. Bilqis Abdul-Qaader, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s first player to wear a hijab, is among several young women to have started a petition against the rule.
“Playing professionally has been my goal for as long as I can remember; I couldn't attain it because of FIBA's ban on hijab” she said.
Although the change.org petition is led by the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the campaign is making waves across the Arab world. A recent article in Raseef 22 cited the story of Mariam Fayed, an Egyptian player who at 16, gave up international basketball after she was forced to choose between her hijab and sport.
And Sura al-Shawk, who is Swiss and of Iraqi heritage, tried to sue the committee in 2010, Raseef
“If the hijab is a religious symbol that needs to be banned,” she said, “why hasn’t [FIBA] banned players who’ve tattooed their bodies with Christian religious symbols?”