SS KulsoomAbdallah LIn June 2011, a Muslim weightlifter from Georgia asked CAIR to help when she was prohibited from competing at the national level while wearing hijab and modest clothing.

CAIR contacted the United States Olympic Committee and the International Weightlifting Federation, asking them to change their policies to allow athletes who so wished to compete while covering their hair, arms and legs.

We offered draft language to these rule-making bodies, and after CAIR’s intervention, the International Weightlifting Federation modified its policy on competitor apparel to allow modest attire.

As a result Kulsoom Abdullah, the athlete who contacted CAIR, was allowed to compete in the USA Weightlifting Senior Nationals in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Her case drew the attention of athletic officials worldwide. Kulsoom now has an opportunity to try out for the Olympics.

CAIR Applauds Weightlifting Rule Change to Allow Islamic Attire
Change comes following intervention by Muslim civil rights group

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/29/11) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today applauded a decision by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) to modify its policy on competitor apparel to allow modest Islamic attire.

The IWF policy change, which now allows a full-body unitard under the compulsory weightlifting attire, came following intervention by CAIR in the case of a Muslim weightlifter in Georgia who wishes to compete while covering her hair, arms and legs.

CAIR: Muslim American Weightlifter Presses On in Fight to Compete

CAIR offered the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) draft language for a policy change on Islamic attire for consideration by the IWF during its ongoing meeting in Malaysia.

The USOC agreed to ask the IWF’s technical committee to review a policy preventing the Muslim athlete, 35-year-old Kulsoom Abdullah (, from competing in the USA Weightlifting Senior Nationals to be held this July in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

CAIR Offers USOC Language for New Weightlifting Hijab Policy
CAIR: U.S. Olympic Committee Asks for Review of Hijab Policy

Abdullah also submitted a video presentation on the issue for consideration by the IWF.

Video: Suggestions & Guidelines for Modified Competition Uniform

In a statement released today in Malaysia announcing the change, IWF President Dr. Tamas Ajan said:

“Weightlifting is an Olympic Sport open for all athletes to participate without discrimination on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex, age, or national origin in accordance with the principles of the Olympic Charter and values. This rule modification has been considered in the spirit of fairness, equality and inclusion.”

SEE: International Weightlifting Federation Creates More Inclusive Sport Environment

“We welcome this important decision in support of greater inclusion in athletic competition and urge the representatives of other international bodies to take similar steps,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “We thank the United States Olympic Committee for helping to empower Muslim women athletes and for taking a stand in support of the American tradition of religious diversity.”

Hooper noted that a 15-year-old Canadian Muslim soccer referee was recently told she could not perform her job while wearing hijab. Earlier this month, an Iranian women’s soccer team was barred from an Olympic qualifying match in Jordan because of the athletes’ modest attire.

CAIR-CAN: ‘Beautiful Game’ Should be Open to Muslim Women

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