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CAIR Encourages Policy Change, Diversity Training After Maryland Muslim Student Barred from Game Over Hijab

CAIR logo(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/13/17) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today said it is working with officials at the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) on a policy update and possible diversity training after a Muslim student was prevented from playing in a basketball game because of her religious head scarf, or hijab.

CAIR said the student was barred from the game despite the fact that she had played in all season while wearing hijab. Officials cited a rarely-enforced rule requiring “documented evidence” of a request for religious attire.

SEE: After playing all season, Maryland girl held out of basketball game for wearing a hijab

“There is obviously a need to update the existing policy so that athletes of all backgrounds may practice their faith without such unfortunate incidents occurring,” said CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager Dr. Zainab Chaudry. “Athletic officials should also undergo diversity training to ensure that they are aware of the religious needs of a diverse student population.”

Last month, CAIR welcomed a move by the Switzerland-based International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to allow athletes to wear religious headgear, including the Islamic head scarf (hijab).

SEE: CAIR Welcomes FIBA’s Move to Allow Religious Headgear

CAIR has also called on the Switzerland-based International Boxing Association (AIBA) and USA Boxing to grant a religious exemption to current uniform regulations so that athletes may wear hijab during competition.

SEE: CAIR Asks International Body to Allow Minnesota Teenage Muslim Boxer to Compete Wearing Hijab

Many international athletic organizations have already modified their rules and policies to account for the various religious needs of participants. For example, over the past few years, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) have all lifted their respective bans on religious headgear, including hijabs.

In the past, 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.

SEE: CAIR Helps NY Muslim Wrestler Obtain NCAA Waiver for Beard

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.

Kulsoom Abdullah: Changing Policy

The Washington-based Muslim civil rights group is asking Muslim community members to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR’s Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at:

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 Maryland Outreach Manager Dr. Zainab Chaudry,, 410-971-6062; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, 

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