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CAIR Welcomes Implementation of New FIBA Policy Allowing Religious Headgear

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/1/17) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed the official implementation of a new ruling by the Switzerland-based International Basketball Federation (FIBA) that lifts the ban on religious headgear and allows players who wear articles of faith — including the Islamic headscarf, or hijab, worn by Muslim female athletes — to participate in international competitions.

SEE: New FIBA Ruling on Headgear Arrives to Open Another Sporting Avenue for Muslim Sportswomen

Effective today, the FIBA directive comes after years of campaigning and lobbying by CAIR and partner organizations, including the Sikh Coalition and MPower Change, which called on FIBA to permanently lift the ban on Muslim women athletes wearing Islamic head scarves (hijab) and Sikh athletes wearing the turban. 

“The official implementation of FIBA’s new policy on headgear is a tremendous victory for everyone who cherishes religious freedom and believes that athletes should be selected to compete based on their abilities and skills, not their religious beliefs,” said CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager Dr. Zainab Chaudry. “This development signals critical progress in competitive sports and beyond. CAIR congratulates our coalition partners and the athletes we have been working with who were directly impacted by this decision. We applaud FIBA for making the right decision.”

Last week, CAIR-Philadelphia) called on the Marple-Newtown School District in Newtown Square, Pa., to allow a Sikh high school soccer player to compete while wearing his religiously-mandated head covering.

SEE: CAIR-Philadelphia Asks School District to Allow Sikh Athlete to Compete Wearing Religious Head Covering

Earlier this year, CAIR welcomed news that FIBA was making progress in the right direction to allow religious headgear.

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

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)

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

[NOTE: USA Boxing is the governing body for Olympic-style boxing in the United States and a member organization of the United States Olympic Committee. The International Boxing Association (AIBA) is the worldwide governing body for the sport of boxing in all its forms.]

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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