Press Releases

CAIR Welcomes Approval of New FIBA Policy Allowing Religious Headgear for Basketball Players

CAIR National logo(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/3/17) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed a new policy adopted by the Switzerland-based International Basketball Federation (FIBA) allowing athletes to wear religious headgear, including the Islamic head scarf (hijab).

In a statement issued today, FIBA said:

“After initiating a revision process of the headgear rule (Article 4.4.2) that is part of the Official Basketball Rules in September 2014, the Central Board approved a proposal put forward by the Technical Commission for a new rule that will allow headgear to be worn by players. The new rule was developed in order to minimize the risk of injuries and preserve consistency of the color of the uniform.

“Given the importance of the change, the Central Board will seek the ratification of the Congress during its Mid-Term session on Thursday-Friday May 4-5 in order for the rule to come into effect as of 1 October 2017.”

SEE: Headgear Rule

“This long-awaited move by FIBA will allow athletes in America and around the world to participate in the sport of basketball regardless of their faith traditions and religious requirements,” said CAIR Spokeswoman Dr. Zainab Chaudry, who recently collaborated with the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association to adopt a similar statewide policy change for public high schools after a Muslim teen was barred from competing because of her hijab.

Chaudry noted that CAIR is now working with the National Federation of High Schools Association to implement a similar policy change at public high schools on a national level.

Last year, CAIR joined more than 50 interfaith and advocacy organization calling on FIBA to lift its ban on religious headgear that prohibits Muslim, Sikh and Jewish athletes from competing on a professional level.

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

Following CAIR’s intervention, USA Boxing recently granted an exemption allowing the first-ever bout with a boxer 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.

– END –

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

Share on facebook
Share on twitter