Girls Won't Remove Hijab at Sports Event
The Associated Press reported in the Houston Chronicle that a team of mainly Muslim girls was forced to pull out of a Tae Kwon Do tournament near Montreal Sunday because its members refused to remove their hijabs. Tournament organizers told team officials the girls could not compete because the Muslim headscarves posed a safety risk. The decision was made at a referee's meeting earlier in the day because hijabs are not listed under allowed equipement, said international referee Stephanie Menard. The team is made up of girls between the ages of 8 and 12 and is affiliated with a Muslim community center in Montreal. Five of the team's six players wear a hijab and have been allowed to participate in similar tournaments around Quebec. The team's coach Mahdi Sbeiti said his team suspects a changing political atmosphere played a role in this decision.
CBC News reported that officials told the coach that if someone yanked on the traditional Muslim headcovering, the hijab, a portion of which hangs beneath the players' helmets, strangulation was possible. Carole Ste.-Marie told CBC's Andrew Chang that her team had never encountered this issue in the three years her six-member squad, five of whom are Muslims, has competed. The tournament organizer, Raymond Mourad, said that he wanted officials to let the girls compete on Sunday and issue a warning for the next time, but his pleas were ignored.