For Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, basketball is life. She was the first Muslim woman to play the game in hijab at the collegiate (NCAA) level. In high school, she was a standout player—shattering a nearly 20-year state high school scoring record. Recognized as one of the best in the country, and even honored by President Obama for her achievements, Bilqis aspired to play basketball professionally.
Darsh Preet Singh confronted racism, xenophobia, and anti-turban bias and excelled as the first turbaned Sikh American to play basketball for an NCAA program.
But both of their dreams were cut short by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the international body that regulates the sport. FIBA has effectively banned women in hijab and men in turbans by classifying head-coverings as an accessory that could cause harm to other players.
FIBA is announcing a decision on the ban soon after the Olympics end this weekend. Join us in calling on them to lift it.
Never have the scarves or turbans worn by Bilqis and Darsh and millions of others around the world ever caused injury to anyone else—on the basketball court or otherwise. This ban by FIBA is unnecessary—and regardless of whether it was intended as such, it's clearly had discriminatory outcomes.
There are countless other hijab-wearing Muslim women whose careers are being cut short by the current ban—people like Indira Kaljo, Ezdihar Abdulmula, and Hatima Kassim. And the ban is affecting the careers of Sikh men—like Amrit Pal Singh and Amjyot Singh, who were forced by an official to remove their turbans before playing a game in Japan in 2014.
We've seen Muslim women in hijab excel in the 2016 Olympics in Rio and Sikh men fight to overcome barriers to wearing their articles of faith in places like the U.S. Army. Now it's time for FIBA to end their policy of keeping them away from professional and international basketball.
Let them know that they need to let players like Bilqis and Darsh play ball. Let Muslim women and Sikh men shine in basketball just like they do in all other areas of our society.
If you agree that people shouldn't be banned from playing basketball at the professional and international level just because they cover their hair, please sign this petition today.
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