Hijab Is Not a Threat On or Off the Court

Many Muslim women choose to don the hijab, not merely as a fashion choice, but as a mode of behavior extending far beyond covering parts of their body. Hijab is modest action, talk, and dress—and of course, it is for both Muslim women and men.

The bans we see trying to eliminate the physical cloth that comes to mind when hearing the word hijab are results of misunderstanding and discrimination. Organizations and governments try to purge the public of women who look undoubtedly Muslim.

The latest culprit is FIBA, the International Basketball Federation. Article 4.4.2 of FIBA’s Official Rules states, “Players shall not wear equipment (objects) that may cause injury to other players.” This rule affects all leagues and tournaments associated with FIBA (most international leagues, save the NBA and WNBA) including the FIBA Basketball World Cup starting this weekend. If a player sporting a hijab, yarmulke, turban or any other “headgear” (minus a headband smaller than five centimeters in width) plays in a game, his/her team would have to forfeit.

Hijab of course, like other headpieces worn by people of various faiths, poses no threat on or off the court. This ban limits many people across the world from pursuing their dreams of playing professional basketball. FIFA lifted a similar ban earlier this year, and now Muslim women can play football (soccer) professionally. Basketballers like Indira Kaljo, who played at Tulane University and professionally overseas before starting hijab, and former Memphis and Indiana State guard Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir hope FIBA will soon follow suit.

Tomorrow on August 27, FIBA will revisit its rule stated in Article 4.4.2. You can help by signing Indira’s petition on Change.org calling on Yvon Mainini of FIBA to remove this ban that clearly discriminates against not only Muslim women, but many people around the world.

Photo via Indira Kaljo