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CAIR: Minnesota Teenage Muslim Boxer Barred from Florida Bout Over Hijab

boxerwin(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/21/16) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today expressed concern over a report that a 16-year-old Muslim boxer from Minnesota was barred from a match in Florida because she wears an Islamic head scarf, or hijab.

Amaiya Zafar, from Oakdale, Minn., was reportedly barred at the last minute from a November 20 bout at the Sugar Bert Boxing National Championships in Kissimmee, Fla. Her mother reported to CAIR that her daughter was able to register and weigh in, and was putting on her gloves just before entering the ring, when a tournament official allegedly told her she could not compete because of her hijab. Her opponent, in an act of solidarity, shared the belt she received for the “win” due to Zafar being disqualified.

“All athletes should be able to compete in their sport of choice without facing roadblocks based on outmoded and discriminatory policies,†said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “We thank Ms. Zafar’s potential opponent for her principled act of solidarity.â€

Hooper renewed CAIR’s call for the Switzerland-based International Boxing Association (AIBA) and USA Boxing to grant a religious exemption to current uniform regulations so that Zafar 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.

Last year, CAIR welcomed a decision by USA Boxing to request a waiver to AIBA’s policy preventing Muslim women and girls from taking part in competition while wearing hijab. To date, neither CAIR nor the teen’s family have been informed of any action being taken on that request.

SEE: CAIR Welcomes Group’s Request for Waiver to Rule Banning Minn. Muslim Teen Boxer’s Hijab

Video: CAIR-MN Helps Muslim Teen Boxer Seeking to Compete Wearing Hijab

CAIR is awaiting a decision by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to lift its ban on religious headgear that bars Muslim, Sikh and Jewish athletes from competing on a professional level.

CAIR: 50+ Groups Release Open Letter to FIBA Urging Religious Rights for Sikh, Muslim and Jewish Athletes 

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-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein, 612-406-0070,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,

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