With all eyes on Rio during the 2016 summer Olympic games, much of the sports commentary has taken a back seat to the athletes' attire. Ibtihaj Muhammad received a lot of media attention going into the games for making history as the first US Olympic athlete to compete in a hijab, where she went on to win a bronze medal with her team. The Egyptian women’s volleyball team’s modest uniform made headlines next to a bikini-clad opposing team, as a stark reminder of cultural differences.
However, not all sports have been as inclusive. Meet Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, the first Muslim woman to play in the NCAA while wearing a hijab. She played division 1 basketball at the University of Indiana in her final year and had dreams of going pro. Her career abruptly ended due to The International Basketball Federation’s (FIBA) regulations on headgear. FIBA prohibits “equipment (objects) that may cause injury to other players.” It is uncertain why the hijab or other religious garments such as turbans worn by Sikhs fall into this category.
In 2014, after a two year trial period, FIFA lifted a similar ban on headgear. There are hopes that FIBA will follow suit when it makes its ruling this August. Join Bilqis and 19 other athletes in their fight for change and sign the petition and encourage FIBA to permanently lift the ban on hijab. #FibaAllowHijab
Watch Bilqis’s Story