Muslim athletes barred from displaying Gaza support

29th Aug 2014

Muslim athletes barred from displaying support for Gazans

Elham Asaad Buaras

England cricketer, Moeen Ali, and Malaysian Cyclist, Azizulhasni Awang, have been warned by their respective governing bodies for displaying their support for the people of Gaza during competition.

On July 24 Awang had the words ‘Save Gaza’ inscribed on his gloves which he showed to TV cameras after beating England’s Philip Hindes in the Commonwealth Games. Four days later Ali was warned for wearing ‘Save Gaza’ and ‘Free Palestine’ wristbands during the third Test match against India.

Ali has been warned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) not to wear wristbands and Awang was told his actions fell foul of the Commonwealth Games Federation’s (CGF) rules, which seeks to avoid its competitions from being used as political platforms.

Nearly 2,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli’s onslaught on Gaza.

The ICC said its “equipment and clothing regulations do not permit the display of messages that relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes during an international match.”

However, the ICC failed to explain why it approved England’s Help for Heroes shirts on July 29 as part of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.

And in the 2003 World Cup, former England coach, Andy Flower, and Henry Olonga, wore black armbands to mark the ‘death of democracy’ in Zimbabwe protest at Robert Mugabe’s regime.

Neither player was punished at the time by the ICC even though they used the board’s most high-profile event to air their views.

The ICC apolitical regulations contradicts its own decision to suspend South Africa from international cricket indefinitely in 1970 because of its Government’s apartheid policy.

Cyclist Awang insisted his message was “humanitarian” not politically charged.

“It’s from the bottom of my heart to express humanitarian thoughts. Since when is expressing humanitarian considered as political?” he said on Facebook.

Supporters of Awang insist his humanitarian stance is in fact in keeping with CGF’s decision to partner with UNICEF for Glasgow 2014 and create the Put Children First Appeal.

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