Qatar team forfeits at Asian Games in hijab protest


When basketball’s international governing body, FIBA, revealed its plan on Sept. 16 to begin a lengthy process of potentially eliminating its rule outlawing hijabs and other religious head coverings on the court, some believed the organization’s intent was more about easing public relations than righting a discriminatory wrong.

But if quieting an increasingly loud group of critics was FIBA’s true goal, it’s not working.

At the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, this week, a women’s basketball game between Qatar and Mongolia was forfeited after members of the Qatari team refused to remove their hijab headscarves and then refused to take the court unless they were allowed to play in them.

“We have to take this stand,” Qatari player Ahlam Salem M. Al-Mana told Reuters. “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.”

The team is reportedly prepared to boycott their next scheduled game, against Nepal on Thursday.

Link to my Muslim Matters column on FIBA’s hijab ban, “FIBA Ruling On Hijab Ban Is Too Little, Too Lame”

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