20 Aug, 2016
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/19/16) Later today (3-5 p.m. EDT) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will join with MPower Change and the The Sikh Coalition to launch a “Twitterstorm” urging the Switzerland-based International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to permanently lift the ban on athletes wearing religious attire when it issues a final decision on its head-covering policy later this month.
CAIR, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said those participating in the Twitterstorm are being asked to use #LetThemPlay and #FibaAllowHijab when tweeting @FIBA in support of Sikh, Jewish and Muslim athletes who wish to wear religious attire.]
The Washington-based Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization and the Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund (SALDEF) recently called on FIBA to permanently lift the ban on Muslim women athletes wearing Islamic head scarves (hijab).
The multi-faith Twitterstorm comes as a number of Olympic athletes wearing religious attire have competed successfully in the ongoing Olympic Games in Brazil. CAIR noted that Ibtihaj Muhammad recently became the first American Muslim woman to win an Olympic medal while wearing hijab.
CAIR had requested and received a change to the hijab ban in 2014 and is working with two American Muslim basketball players who were being impacted by the prohibition. [NOTE: Sikh players who wear turbans for religious reasons had also been prevented from playing basketball under FIBA’s policy.]
As part of a two-year testing program that FIBA agreed to in 2014 following intervention by CAIR and Sikh organizations, players can currently wear hijabs (and Sikh turbans) in some competitions. FIBA will likely issue its final decision on hijab after the Rio Olympics.
CAIR noted that FIFA’s International Football Association Board acknowledged the religious rights of soccer players by changing its rules to allow hijabs and Sikh turbans.
In 2015, CAIR’s Minnesota chapter assisted a teenage Muslim boxer who wanted to compete while wearing modest Islamic attire, including hijab.
CAIR helped a Muslim wrestler at the University at Buffalo in New York obtain a waiver from the NCAA to wear a beard he believes is required by his faith.
In 2011, CAIR welcomed a decision by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) to modify its policy on competitor apparel to allow modest Islamic attire. The IWF policy change came following intervention by CAIR in the case of a Muslim weightlifter in Georgia who wished to compete while covering her hair, arms and legs.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.