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CAIR Welcomes FIBA’s Move to Allow Religious Headgear

CAIR logo(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/3/17) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed a move by the Switzerland-based International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to allow athletes to wear religious headgear, including the Islamic headscarf (hijab).

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

Hijabs and Turbans Are Not a Threat to Sports (TIME)

In a statement dated January 30, FIBA said:

“After initiating a revision process of the headgear rule (Article 4.4.2) of the Official Basketball Rules in September 2014, the Board received a report on the impact of the exceptions applied on a domestic level during a two-year period. It favored a modification of the rule and issued a mandate for the Technical Commission to come forward with a proposal that would allow headgear to be worn safely by athletes. This will be presented to the Mid-Term Congress in May.”

SEE: FIBA Central Board Makes Key Decisions During First Meeting of 2017

“All athletes, regardless of religion, should be able to compete in their sport of choice without facing obstacles based on outdated and discriminatory policies,” said CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager Dr. Zainab Chaudry. “This development is an important step in the right direction and we hope the final policy decision will remove any impediments faced by Sikh, Jewish and Muslim athletes.”

“We look forward to reviewing the policy and the steps for approval, and we’re optimistic that this announcement represents positive progress,” said Sikh Coalition Senior Religion Fellow Simran Jeet Singh. “If approved, this policy will set a powerful precedent that opens doors for religious minorities including Sikhs and Muslims.”

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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