(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/9/16) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on the Switzerland-based International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to permanently lift the ban on Muslim women athletes wearing Islamic head scarves (hijab) when it issues a final decision on its head-covering policy later this month. (#FibaAllowHijab)
CAIR had requested and received a change to the hijab ban in 2014 and is working with two American Muslim basketball players who were being impacted by the prohibition. [NOTE: Sikh players who wear turbans for religious reasons had also been prevented from playing basketball under FIBA's policy.]
As part of a two-year testing program that FIBA agreed to in 2014 following intervention by CAIR and Sikh organizations, players can currently wear hijabs (and Sikh turbans) in some competitions. FIBA will likely issue its final decision on hijab after the Rio Olympics.
“We call on the International Basketball Federation to end the uncertainty on this issue by permanently lifting the ban on hijab and on other religious attire wore by athletes,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “The only determining factors for athletic participation should be skill and hard work, not what is worn on one’s head.”
“We call upon FIBA to recognize the articles of faith of Sikhs, Muslims and Orthodox Jews, and urge them to immediately amend their policies to ensure that people around the world have an equal opportunity to play the game," said Satnam Singh, director of government and community relations at the Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund (SALDEF). “Anything short of a complete policy change will lead to an unequal playing field.”
A Change.org petition launched by one of the Muslim women athletes, Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, has garnered more than 90,000 signatures.
CAIR noted that FIFA’s International Football Association Board acknowledged the religious rights of soccer players by changing its rules to allow hijabs and Sikh turbans.
In 2015, CAIR’s Minnesota chapter assisted a teenage Muslim boxer who wanted to compete while wearing modest Islamic attire, including hijab.
CAIR helped a Muslim wrestler at the University at Buffalo in New York obtain a waiver from the NCAA to wear a beard he believes is required by his faith.
In 2011, CAIR welcomed a decision by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) to modify its policy on competitor apparel to allow modest Islamic attire. The IWF policy change came following intervention by CAIR in the case of a Muslim weightlifter in Georgia who wished to compete while covering her hair, arms and legs.
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.
La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, firstname.lastname@example.org