Qatari basketball team quit Asian Games over hijab ban

31st Oct 2014


Qatar’s women’s basketball team leaves the court after forfeiting their game against Mongolia during the Asian Games in Korea

Elham Asaad Buaras

Qatar have pulled out of the women’s basketball competition at the Asian Games in South Korea after refusing to abide by rules by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) preventing them from wearing hijabs.

The Qatari players had been asked to remove their head coverings before their opening group game against Mongolia on September 24, but chose to pull out of the match instead.

According to FIBA rule players cannot wear “headgear, hair accessories and jewellery”.

With no sign of the rule being relaxed ahead of their next scheduled match against Nepal on September 25, Qatar decided to withdraw from their remaining games.

A spokesman for Qatar’s National Olympic Committee announced: “We have decided not to take part in the remainder of the Asian Games women’s basketball competition.”

Human Rights Watch told The Muslim News FIBA should prove why Qatari players should not wear headscarves.

“We oppose any general ban on wearing of headscarves and onus should be on the regulator to prove why a ban is necessary on the basis of health and safety,” it said.

“In the case of basketball, it’s difficult to see how a ban on the headscarf is anything other than an unnecessary restriction on the players’ rights to religious freedom and personal autonomy.”

Competition at the Asian Games is conducted under the regulations of the sports’ international governing bodies, meaning athletes in other sports are free to wear hijabs. Basketball remains the exception.

FIBA said earlier this month it held discussions on the issue and was introducing a two-year “testing phase” on what players can wear, though that only applies at the national level, not international competitions such as the Asian Games.

Qatari player Ahlam Salem Al-Mana said: “We have to take this stand. We knew about the hijab ban but we have to be here. We have to show everyone that we are ready to play, but the International Association is not ready.”

One Response to “Qatari basketball team quit Asian Games over hijab ban”

Iftikhar AhmadNovember 1, 2014

How can a headband and long skirt be described as ‘too religious’? Ridiculous. I see nothing wrong with wearing a headscarf, and find the French outlawing of them unfair and unnecessary. But there are other religions and sects that insist on a certain dress code for their followers, most orders of Christian nuns for example, are also covered from head to toe. Girl dressing modestly is seen as a religious symbol, yet girls in short skirts hitched up revealing their knickers is perfectly acceptable and not an insult to Christianity and therefore also a religious issue? It’s funny how democracy is linked to freedom when it seems to be taking people’s freedom away, the freedom to choose.You shouldn’t be able to order a woman to go around wrapped up from head to toe, but you shouldn’t be able to order her to go around half naked either. What is wrong with a girl wearing a long skirt.

According to a Japanese revert, “the hijab reminds people who see it that God exists, and it serves as a constant reminder to me that I should conduct myself as a Muslim. Just as police officers are more professionally aware while in uniform, so I had a stronger sense of being a Muslim wearing my hijab”. ‘Revert’ not ‘convert’ coz every human were born into Islam but the environment changes one faith. Wearing the hijab soon became spontaneous, albeit purely voluntary. No human being could force me to wear it; if they had, perhaps I would have rebelled and rejected it. However, the first Islamic book I read used very moderate language in this respect, saying that “Allah recommends it (the hijab) strongly” and since Islam (as the word itself indicates) means we are to obey Allah’s will I accomplished my Islamic duties willingly and without difficulty, Alhamdulillah.

The hijab reminds people who see it that God exists, and it serves as a constant reminder to me that I should conduct myself as a Muslim. Just as police officers are more professionally aware while in uniform, so I had a stronger sense of being a Muslim wearing my hijab. My hijab made me happy; it was both a sign of my obedience to Allah and a manifestation of my faith. I did not need to
utter beliefs, the hijab stated them clearly for all to see, especially fellow Muslims, and thus it helped to strengthen the bonds of sisterhood in Islam.

Muslims are accused of being over-sensitive about the human body but the degree of sexual harassment which occurs these days justifies modest dress. Just as a short skirt can send the signal that the wearer is available to men, so the hijab signals, loud and clear: I am forbidden for you.

Practising Muslims, whether those born in Muslim families or those reverted to Islam, choose Islam rather than the illusory freedom of secular life. If it oppresses women, why are so many well-educated young women in Europe, America, Japan, Australia, indeed all over the world, abandoning liberty and independence and embracing Islam?

A person blinded by prejudice may not see it, but a woman in hijab is as brightly beautiful as an angel, full of self-confidence, serenity, and dignity.
IA
http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

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