Maldives women’s team forfeit basketball tournament over headscarf ban

The Maldives’ women’s basketball team refused to play without their headscarves, forfeiting the International Basketball Federation’s (FIBA) first under 18 three-on-three tournament held in Bangkok, Thailand earlier this week.

“The girls were really upset, we are as well. We came prepared based on the uniform the team wore in the last two games,” Maldives Basketball Association (MBA) President Ahmed Hafiz told Minivan News today (May 27).

“According to FIBA, the head cannot be covered during play. We have to go with FIBA rules if we want to play,” Hafiz stated.

The Maldives’ women’s basketball team has been allowed to participate in past tournaments while wearing burugaathah (headscarves), however the decision to make an exception to the rules “depends on the officials”, according to Hafiz.

“Qatar held a tournament two weeks back and there were some complaints that the Qatar team was wearing headgear, so FIBA was forced to apply the rules,” Hafiz explained. “Maybe that is the reason this issue came up for the Maldives [in this tournament].”

FIBA Asia has designed a jersey for Muslim players, but still needs to obtain FIBA international approval, according to the MBA.

“FIBA Asia is working on this because lots of Muslim countries are involved. Now the are suggesting to FIBA International to change the rules to allow headgear,” said Hafiz.

The Maldives’ under 18 women’s team is planning to participate in the upcoming Asian Youth Games, to be held this August in Nanjing, China, according to Hafiz.

“However, [the choice] is up to the players. We will not force them,” he said.

“This is a big problem for the game and will ruin the development of women’s basketball for a place like this, because there are still very few girl players and most wear the burugaa,” MBA Secretary General Arif Riza told Minivan News today.

“FIBA is pretty clear about the rules, so although the team has been allowed to play twice before, this was a mistake of ours also,” said Riza.

The primary issues of concern to MBA are that FIBA permitted the Maldives’ team to wear headscarves during tournaments in 2011 and 2012 as well as allowed other teams to play in violation of different dress code rules, such as wearing t-shirts instead of jerseys, according to Riza.

“Immediately after President Hafiz arrives [from Thailand] we will discuss the issue and write FIBA a letter,” said Riza.

“They should be allowed to have the right to play,” he declared.

FIBA Response

The headgear ban is “a part of FIBA Rules, but not a policy,” FIBA Asia Secretary General Hagop Khajirian told Minivan News Thursday (May 23).

“It has nothing to do with headscarves as such, but more to do with the regulations which stipulate that the playing gears of players has to be such that it may not cause any harm or hindrance to themselves or opponent players,” explained Khajirian.

Although these rules have “been the case always”, FIBA is currently reviewing the headscarf restriction.

“There have been requests from many nations regarding this. And the FIBA Asia Central Board, in its meeting [held] on April 24 in Kuala Lumpur, resolved to send a study paper to FIBA to be taken up for further consideration,” said Khajirian.

The choice to cover

While Maldivian women’s participation in basketball is slowly increasing, netball is popular nationwide. Although there are key distinctions between the two sports – such as no dribbling in netball – the rules are very similar, according to a skilled Maldivian netball player of nine years and student coach of six years.

“Wearing the burugaa while playing netball is no problem for us, it is not difficult and we’ve never experienced any injuries [from the headscarves],” she explained on condition of anonimity.

“Every person has the choice of whether or not they choose to wear the burugaa. However, it is a religious thing, in Islam Muslims have to cover, it is the right thing,” she continued.

“Although some are not wearing [headscarves], that is their choice,” she added.

The netball enthusiast agreed with the Maldives’ women’s basketball team decision to not remove their headscarves and forefit their game in the recent FIBA three-on-three tournament.

“Their choice was the correct one, they do not want to break religous rules,” she said.

“FIBA should change their rules if they want Maldivians to participate, because so many [women] are wearing burugaathah. They have to change so everyone can compete,” she added.

Burugaa bans

A senor researcher from the internatonal NGO, Human Rights Watch, previously highlighted the discriminatory issue of banning women from wearing headscarves, in a 2012 article “Banning Muslim Veil Denies Women a Choice, Too”.

“The sad irony is that whether they are being forced to cover up or to uncover, these women are being discriminated against. Banned from wearing the hijab – a traditional Muslim headscarf – or forced to veil themselves, women around the world are being stripped of their basic rights to personal autonomy; to freedom of expression; and to freedom of religion, thought and conscience,” wrote Judith Sunderland.

“Denying women the right to cover themselves is as wrong as forcing them to do so. Muslim women, like all women, should have the right to dress as they choose and to make decisions about their lives and how to express their faith, identity and moral values. And they should not be forced to choose between their beliefs and their chosen profession,” notes the article.

Muslim women’s basketball players in Switzerland and Baharain have also faced controversial opposition to their refual to remove their headscarves.

The Baharaini team was “lauded” for their refusal to remove their headscarves during an international competition in 2009, according to Gulf News.

Meanwhile, Sura Al-Shawk, a 19 year-old STV Luzern basketball player, was denied permission to play while wearing a headscarf by the Swiss basketball association ProBasket in 2010, reported the Associated Press.

ProBasket told the Associated Press it followed FIBA rules and that wearing the headscarf while playing basketball “could increase the risk of injury and the sport has to be religiously neutral”.

In July 2012, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) overturned a headscarf ban, which was put into place in 2007, after a yearlong campaign led by FIFA vice president Prince Ali of Jordan, reported the Associated Press.


28 thoughts on “Maldives women’s team forfeit basketball tournament over headscarf ban”

  1. Muslims are not allowed to take part in sports. You should stay home and make your husband happy by allowing him to have four wives.

  2. For Dhivehistanis tolerance is always one-sided. When their Allah-given right to wear an Arab desert tent is taken away by infidels, they behave as if they care about human rights.

    But ask any typical Dhivehistani whether they support the right of a person to wear what they wish - and the answer will be a resounding no. Infidel tourist women have to put on sarongs when they enter the Islamic temples in Male'. Recently a Dhivehistani girl who refused to comply with the unwritten dress norms (a black bodybag) was taken into custody by the police. Bikinis for Dhivehistanis are not allowed on beach areas. Nor are infidel workers allowed to dress in religious attire or display religious symbols. The Islamic Guardian Council of Dhivehistan ensures that such discrimination with regards to clothing is enforced, so it was ironic when the head mullah congratulated these girls in an FB status. The status received an acerbic comment from a non-Muslim Dhivehistani (a constitutionally unrecognised breed), which led to widespread condemnation and death threats. A former attorney general even asked that such disparaging comments against Islam, Holy Allah and Mohammad should be investigated by police.

    So when these same Dhivehistanis talk about human rights, the sheer hypocrisy never fails to make me laugh. What next? The right to dribble in a sarcophagus? Or swim in truncated trousers?

  3. The guidelines by FIBA are discriminatory against women and should be challenged. I'm sure that there are certain considerations as in other sports, not causing hindrance to the player or opponents, for merely safety reasons. But these could be easily changed to be more inclusive of women from different ethnicities and backgrounds.

    However, the 'guidelines' prevents women from participating actively in sports, especially in an age when everyone is calling for more women's participation in sports, politics, economic activity etc. This is especially important for Muslim countries where women face daily harassment and discrimination.

    Women in Muslim countries like the Maldives get very little opportunity as it is right now to participate in this sort of thing, and now FIBA is taking this right away from the Maldives women's basketball team? This is disgraceful for an international sporting body and completely unacceptable.

    Maldives national sporting authority should file a strongly worded complaint.

  4. buruga is ban because ninjas have unfair advantage in all sports

  5. What is wrong with these bloody women?
    Next Maldivian women swimmers will insist on competing in full saudi style abayas.....fundamental islam seems to be in conflict with everthing these days.
    Sports is haraam
    Music is haraam
    Dancing is haraam
    Watching TV and movies is haraam
    Fashion is haraam
    Lipstick is haraam
    Maskara and eyeliner is haraam
    Perfume is haraam
    High heeled shoes are haraam
    Education for women is haraam
    and I thought only Maldivian men were retarded.........

  6. Certainly! These girls should play in a full burqua or nikab, certainly not in Maldivian dress.
    Yes, the National Sporting Authority should file a "strongly worded complaint", i.e. Maldivian women should wear contemporary Arab costumes (which are different from Maldivian dress) and different from the obligations given in The Holy Koran.
    Good sport.

  7. Those who are so passionate about women's rights should consider starting with local discrimination. After all charity begins at home. Or does Arab imperiliast subjugation of women not matter? LOL. Dhivehistanis are in no position to complain about FIBA when Dhivehistan has reservations to CEDAW:

    "The Government of the Republic of Maldives will comply with the provisions of the Convention, except those which the Government may consider contradictory to the principles of the Islamic Sharia upon which the laws and traditions of the Maldives is founded.

    Furthermore, the Republic of Maldives does not see itself bound by any provisions of the Convention which obliges to change its Constitution and laws in any manner."

    We all know what that has led to. No custody, no alimony, no inheritance, no divorce rights, domestic violence, marital rape, girl-child marriage, female circumcision, unfair sentencing, floggings, enforced bodybagging, harassment, and virulent misogyny. Women can't even enter the cemetary to say goodbye to their deceased relatives. And to stop this discrimination you have to go to the courts which are implementing these laws in the first place. When you deal with that, we can talk about playing basketball in Arab robes enforced via threats of an imaginary cosmic furnace.

  8. Banning Muslim women wearing a veil denies women a choice. Thumps up, Maldives team! You could have chosen to play, but you did not. It is only through passive resistance FIBA can be forced to change its mind!

  9. Some people may argue it is the rights of women to wear whatever they wish to wear, but this cannot be applied, in sports and work place where dress code is necessary or when attending a gathering that requires dress code. Why the Muslim should have these privileges? The Muslim women who can’t go according to these norms, they should not go to such places and live behind the walls.
    I am not sure what makes these morons such illogical people and seems they are merely zombies.
    Sometimes, I wonder why mostly ugly women think they are beautiful and why they have this feeling that men are getting satisfaction by looking their ugly faces for that they are covering their faces. I think no real men will look in to the face of Maldivian women to get any carnal satisfaction, if you want such entertainment you can go in to web world, you can see the most beautiful women even naked. Or may be Maldivian men are not less than animals, still their chemistry is in primitive stage or all Maldivian are psychopaths. How long does it take to evolve primitive’s psychological behavior? To be frank I don’t see any difference in Maldivain from primitive animals and when I interact with Maldivian I always feel pity for such unfortunate subhuman

  10. religious belief should not be issue in sports because in sports the player compete in physical,skills,knowledge,strength, and so on but not how religious you are.i'm not surprise they don't compete because the MBA president said that they came prepared based on the UNIFORM THE TEAM WORE IN LAST TWO GAMES.that's ok because if they don't want to follow the rules of sport then don't play.

  11. Leaving the whole religious debate out of the picture, I don't see any safety issues with tight head wear in sports. It has to be regulated as loose head wraps might cause hinder to both the player itself as other players, but the elastic tight head covers the girls wear usually, shouldn't be a problem.

    On the other side muslims should not have any problem with women who choose to wear more revealing and comfortable sports outfits.

    As usual it's closed minded non-muslims vs closed minded muslims blaming each other. For as long as it doesn't harm anyone, give everyone the freedom to choose. You'd make the world a much better place.

    A non-muslim

  12. Fishy Head: "Some people may argue it is the rights of women to wear whatever they wish to wear"

    It is not their wish or choice to wear a permanent rag on their heads in 90 percent humidity - and sweating themselves to dehydration. No, they're coerced into this alien dholhi under threat of Hellfire by madrassa-educated mullahs. When given the option of eternally hanging by their hair in a hot furnace or disobeying kuffar FIBA's uniform rules - these scared girls would naturally go for the latter. Two bad options is never a choice. It's blackmail. If this rag was a free-choice, they will have no problem with removing it at will.

  13. A choice reflects genuine agency when it is deeply informed and free of fear.

    There are patriarchal narratives about why Women should wear the veil, which are indeed oppressive. If a Veil wearing Lady told me she wore the veil because her Hair is for the Glory of her Husband (to quote a Hadith probably derived from Christian or Jewish scripture) I would struggle to believe that her choice reflected genuine agency.

    Yet there are also Feminist narrativea offered by Women who wear the veil explaining why they choose to wear the veil, which I find inspiring.

    The feminist argument for the veil I heard used language from Islamic sources - as well as from Germaine Greer's academic language which draws ffrom Marxist concepts. It was conveyed to me that the veil is a symbol representing that a Woman's body is not a commododity. The veil, it was said, says "I am not a sex object - respect me for my mind and character - it is sacred - innate - I am NOT to be commodofied..."

    It is interesting to note that Aisha bin Bakr, WIfe of Prophet Mohammed (SAW) and Daughter of Abu Bakr the first Caliph, lead a warfare expedition against Ali Ibn Abu Talib and his supporters. That she was a leader in an Army and not just an oppressed housewife has been a tremendous inspiration for Islamic feminsists everywhere.

  14. is this a news ? or Minivan is trying to something else here

  15. No it's not a racist policy Rasheeda. You can call it discrimination, which is not ok either and in this case I agree the rule should be revised.

    I'm against this discrimination, but I'm also against the discrimination and negative judgement of women here who choose not to cover up. You can complain about injustice done to you, but also try to avoid infliction injustice against others under the cover of religion.

  16. @Ekaloa's buddy Yeah agree should not be prejudice either way

  17. Ben: "The veil, it was said, says “I am not a sex object – respect me for my mind and character – it is sacred – innate – I am NOT to be commodofied…"

    So unveiled women are sex objects? Some feminists. Why cloak themselves in an black tarpaulin when a bagde would do just the same? Maybe these feminists think that all men are wolves.

  18. @Homosexual: Good point - awesome... I agree.

    I guess the point the feminist Muslim made was, "I wear this so you don't reduce the value of my mind..."

    - but - yeah - when you look at it from the perspective you just offered, it was a weak argument - why should a womans mind be degarded just because she is not wearing a veil or - even if she was naked why should that make a difference?

  19. Ben: The value of a person's mind is not reflected in his/her dress. Such thinking is patriarchy disguised as feminism. I have a zero-tolerance for such ideas.

    When society tries to change you, you change society. You don't binge-eat or hide under a tent.

  20. I think the Muslims women have Stockholm syndrome, the patriarchal system in family and abuse of women is well accepted by women in these societies. Unless there is women voice rejecting these ideas there will be no solution. In Maldives, women take pride to be abused by men and they don’t have any sham of being second class citizens in their households. You call this Stockholm syndrome, consistent abuse become normal and is accepted. The women mostly reduce them to mummies due to pressure from men; some men clearly reject the women if they don’t look like mummies because these men doing so, feel they have full control on their women and this gives them some sense of greatness. The basic reason of depriving women from education is also because of the fear that if women are educated the men will lose the authority. If women are not educated they have to depend on men for survival and this is the best tool to keep women subjugated and this tendency to patriarchal system of society is well rooted in Dhivehitani brain. Unless the women folks don’t fight for equal rights or don’t want be equal in their families, this abuse of masculine power will run without end.
    Women must stand up and fight and should get fear of deficiency in them out of their brain and the thought of vulnerability. In fact these fishermen are weak inside and once they see the opposition to male domination they will come to their size. Women… you must kick their balls. In animal kingdom females are stronger so why can’t you do it. Don’t be scared God, hell and all this non sense is to keep you subjugated. Why you think you have to cover in order to save men going to hell isn’t that not obvious these religious non sense is creation of men, why there is no prophet women . Don’t believe a word Mullah are saying, In the face of democratic pressure, now they are trying to be more civilized and call this subjugation as if they are preserving women’s dignity and claim that your free will to make use of your beauty for commercial purpose as disgraceful for feminism. What a rational justification? Is it not for women to decide what is disgraceful for them, why would these moron be so worried about your dignity when they marry multiple wives, and take child brides and keep you out of inheritance and regard you as half of a man.

  21. good, im very happy to hear that its illegal to wear head scarfs. i hope this will be the law in the future and ban all burqas from all sports, its a mockery and a f***ing joke.

    islam says men a provoked by the body of the woman, so Olympics and other sports are porn for muslims men.

    pathetic. keep this rule until these silly muslims learn their place in the world, make your own sports, maybe the best hijab or how not to provoke men.

    invent your own sports, dont try to change the rest of the world cause you are ignorant and primitive.


  22. @MissIndia NewDelhi : Its better for u to Haraam Raping and Racism in your country. You have seen the benefit of Halaaling in your country of Raping Racism Killing Each other Homo sexuality etc. Watch the shit on your back first before you open your mouth. Do not Rape mice and cats.


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