Qatar Women's Basketball Team Forfeit Game, Walk Off Court After Refusing to Remove Hijab

Playing hoops wearing headscarves?

(PHOTO- Qatar’s women’s basketball team leave the court after forfeiting their match against Mongolia. Photograph: Sportschosun Kimkyungmin/Reuters)

The Qatar women’s basketball team forfeited a match at the Asian Games after being refused permission to wear the hijab, saying they were taking a stand against a discriminatory policy against Muslim women.

The Qatari players were asked, in accordance with International Basketball Federation rules, to remove their Islamic headscarves in order to play against Mongolia.

However, the players refused, saying it violated their religious beliefs and they wanted to send a strong message to the sport’s governing federation that the ban was unfair.

“We have to take this stand,” said Ahlam Salem M al-Mana of Qatar. “We are here to push the international association that all Muslim teams are ready to compete in any competition. 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.”

A spokesperson for the Incheon Asian Games organizing committee said that organizers had no alternative other than to declare a forfeit because, “the rule that the players broke is International Basketball Federation rule 4.4.2, which talks about uniforms and what players can wear.

The technical official asked them to remove the scarf and they refused, so the game was forfeited by Qatar.”