NCAA-Logo(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/5/14) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today said that a Muslim wrestler at the University at Buffalo in New York has been granted a waiver by the NCAA to wear a beard he believes is required by his faith.

SEE: Muslim Wrestler Goes to the Mat for His Religious Beliefs (Buffalo News)

That action by the NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee came after CAIR’s intervention and after the civil rights group urged university officials to request the waiver. The Muslim wrestler will be allowed to compete with a beard during the 2014-15 season as long as he wears a face mask and chin strap.

NCAA rules currently ban beards, but they are permitted in international competition, including the Olympics.

“Now that this individual waiver has been granted, we will work with the NCAA to change its policy to allow beards for all competitors nationwide,” said Sadyia Khalique, director of operations for CAIR’s New York chapter (CAIR-NY). The wrestler’s family initially contacted CAIR-NY, which brought the issue to the university.

“We welcome this reasonable religious accommodation by the NCAA, which will enable Muslim athletes to participate in wrestling without violating their religious beliefs,” said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, who worked with the family, the university and the NCAA to obtain the waiver.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR-NY Director of Operations Sadyia Khalique, 212-870-2002,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,

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