26 January 2017

Will Basketball Ruler FIBA Overturn Hijab Ban Excluding Muslim Women And Girls?

Posted in Article

Global Sports Stars Sign Open Letter Opposing Headgear Ban


(New York, January 26, 2017) – This month marks a key decision moment with the possibility to overturn a ban that has unjustly benched leading Muslim female basketball players, said Shirzanan, a nonprofit working to advance access to sport for Muslim women and girls worldwide.

"FIBA's unfair policy has discriminated against thousands of Muslim women and girls, forcing them to choose between basketball and religion," said Mara Gubuan, acting executive director of Shirzanan. "This discriminatory policy needs to end without delay."  

FIBA's Rule 4.4.2 deems headgear as a supposed injury risk.

FIBA's Central Board is scheduled to meet on January 27, where the rule is expected to be discussed. Leading up to the meeting, global sports stars and icons are standing in solidarity with the Muslim athletes around the world who have been denied the basic right to play basketball.

Shirzanan Athlete Ambassador Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir is one example of the rule destroying the careers of aspiring Muslim athletes.

Today, Pixela Pictura, Uninterrupted, Great Big Story and CNN films releases a 15-minute short film titled "FIBA Allow Hijab," from the upcoming documentary film "Life Without Basketball" which details how the rule has affected her personal life. More information can be found at LifeWithoutBBall.com.  

FIBA should overturn the headgear ban to follow the global precedent of other sports governing bodies. FIFA's own ban was overturned in 2014, leading to millions of Muslim women and girls being able to play soccer. Overturning the ban would answer a growing global demand.

In the last year alone, more than 130,000 people signed a petition opposing the hijab ban. FIBA did not answer. Prominent sports, human rights, and advocacy organizations also oppose FIBA's ban.

Athlete Ally – a nonprofit organization that empowers athletes to champion equality – published an open letter to FIBA President Muratore calling to end religious discrimination in basketball. The open letter has been signed by dozens of athletes, including leading athlete-advocates Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Julie Foudy and Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad. Several WNBA players including Breanna Stewart and Tina Charles have also voiced their support.


Shirzanan is a nonprofit organization that advances Muslim women's rights through sports, media and advocacy. Shirzanan trains Muslim female journalists to cover Muslim female athletes and trains Muslim female athletes as advocates. Shirzanan Athlete Ambassadors confront institutional and cultural barriers that deny Muslim females the human right to sport.


Ms. Mara Gubuan
Co-Founder and Acting Executive Director
Shirzanan Media and Advocacy for Muslim Females in Sport
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