(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/22/15) â€“- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nationâ€™s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today called on USA Boxing and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to allow a Minnesota Muslim teenager to take part in a competition this Friday while wearing modest Islamic attire, including a head scarf, or hijab.
CAIR said 15-year-old Amaiya Zafar from Oakdale, Minn., is seeking to compete for the first time in a USA Boxing-sanctioned event this Friday in Duluth, Minn. She wishes to compete wearing hijab (in addition to protective head covering) and covering her arms and legs, but has been told such attire violates rules of the International Boxing Association (AIBA).
â€œAthletic competition is an important factor in the empowerment of young people who are often denied full access to sporting activities,â€ said CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein.
In a letter to USA Boxing, USOC and AIBA, CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper wrote in part:
â€œIt is important that athletes of all faiths and backgrounds be allowed to compete while maintaining their religious principles. Wearing modest attire would in no way provide a competitive advantage or raise a safety issue for the Muslim athlete or her opponents.
â€œAmaiya Zafar has been told that the prohibition on her modest clothing and head covering stems from the AIBAâ€™s policy on attire for competitors.
â€œOutdated and discriminatory rules should not supersede constitutional protections guaranteeing religious freedom. This issue can best be addressed by working with Amaiya Zafar and her family to reach a mutually-agreeable solution that maintains the legitimate rights and requirements of all parties and allows her to compete in Duluth, Minn., this Friday.â€
Last year, CAIR applauded a decision by the Switzerland-based International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to drop its ban on Islamic headscarves, or hijabs, worn by athletes.
CAIR noted that FIFAâ€™s International Football Association Board acknowledged the religious rights of soccer players by changing its rules to allow hijabs and Sikh turbans.
CAIR also 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.
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CONTACT: CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein, 612-206-3360, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Nabeelah Naeem, 202-341-4171, firstname.lastname@example.org