The Stream

#FIBAAllowHijab: Fighting the hijab ban in international basketball

Athletes discuss their experiences wearing hijab in sport.

Getting to play sports for a living takes raw talent, dedication and a bit of luck. But what happens if you have all these qualities and still can’t play because an expression of your faith conflicts with rules governing the game you love? That’s the case for hijabi athletes who wish to pursue professional basketball.


In May, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) will address a proposal to allow hijabs in women’s basketball. There has also been Change.Org petition demanding FIBA change their rules. Currently Rule 4.4.2 of the governing body’s regulations states that “players shall not wear equipment (objects) that may cause injury to other players”. This safety concern extends to casts, forearm guards, jewellery, and headgear.


Similar rules have stifled ambitions and cut careers short in other areas of play. But in 2014, FIFA allowed the hijab in professional football after conducting a two-year trial. In the United States, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) allows eligible players to wear the headscarf with written permission. And at the 2016 Rio Olympics, women from around the world competed in various sports with their hijabs on. Activists say they hope FIBA will follow suit and overturn its ban.


We speak to Muslim women athletes about expressing their faith and playing the sport they love. 


On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:


Kike Salihu Rafiu @KikeRafiu

Former basketball player, Georgetown University


Ezdihar Abdulmula @Ezdihar_A

Basketball player and coach


Arshiya Kherani @sukoonactive

Founder/CEO, Sukoon Active


What do you think? Leave a comment in the comments section below.