(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/12/14) — 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 change its rule banning Muslim women athletes from wearing Islamic head scarves, or hijab.
In a letter to FIBA President Yvan Mainini, CAIR wrote in part:
“Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, an American Muslim woman who wears an Islamic head scarf (hijab), is unable to pursue a professional career as a basketball player at the international level due to Article 4.4.2 of the FIBA Official Basketball Rules banning 'headgear.' We believe this rule violates Ms. Abdul-Qaadir's religious rights and contravenes international human rights norms.
“No athlete should be forced to choose between faith and sport. Muslim women seek to participate in sporting activities should not face artificial and arbitrary barriers to that participation.
“The issue of religious attire for athletes can be addressed successfully in a mutually-agreeable manner that maintains the legitimate rights and needs of all parties.
“FIFA's International Football Association Board recently acknowledged the religious rights of athletes by changing its rules to allow hijabs and Sikh turbans.
“As America's largest Muslim civil rights organization, we formally request that FIBA's Technical Commission meet as soon as possible to discuss changing this discriminatory rule to allow Ms. Abdul-Qaadir, and athletes of all faiths, to compete while maintaining religious principles.”
In 2011, CAIR applauded 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 National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171, firstname.lastname@example.org