Qatar forfeit basketball game in hijab row

Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:21am EDT
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By Peter Rutherford

INCHEON South Korea (Reuters) - The Qatar women's basketball team forfeited a game at the Asian Games on Wednesday after being refused permission to wear the hijab, saying they were taking a stand against what they say is a discriminatory policy against Muslim women.

The Qatari players were asked, in accordance with International Basketball Federation's rules, to remove their Islamic headscarfs in order to play against Mongolia.

However, the players refused, saying it violated their religious beliefs and they wanted to send a strong message to the sport's governing federation that the ban was unfair.

"We have to take this stand," said Ahlam Salem M. Al-Mana of Qatar. "We are here to push the international association that all Muslim teams are ready to compete in any competition.

"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."

A spokesperson for the Incheon Asian Games (IAGOC) told Reuters that organizers had no alternative other than to declare a forfeit because, "the rule that the players broke is International Basketball Federation rule 4.4.2, which talks about uniforms and what players can wear.

"The technical official asked them to remove the scarf and they refused, so the game was forfeited by Qatar."

The use of hijabs has become a hot topic in sport in recent years with Muslim athletes complaining that they are being discriminated against.   Continued...

Flag bearer of Qatar Mubarak Ali Al Morekhe leads the team into the Opening Ceremony of the 17th Asian Games in Incheon September 19, 2014.  REUTERS/Issei Kato