Muslim Basketball Player Can’t Play Overseas Because She Wears Hijab

By Jamilah King Jun 27, 2014

Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir is used to lighting things up on the basketball court. She did it as the all-time leading scorer in Massachussetts state history and then as a college athlete at Memphis and Indiana State. But she’s having trouble getting her professional career started overseas thanks to rules preventing her from wearing hijab.

"As of right now I’m really in a holding pattern because of FIBA," the Muslim-American athlete told MassLive. "I think in many ways the key word in FIBA is international. I think that’s what upsets me most."

FIBA — the international basketball federation — has rules that prevent women from wearing hijab because it says it wants the game to remain "religiously neutral."

But Abdul-Qaadir isn’t buying it. "International means everyone, and FIBA isn’t inclusive because of its ban on wearing my hajib," Abdul-Qaadir said. "People have this impression of Muslims like they’re afraid of us. What some people in the Muslim religion are doing has nothing to do with the rest of us. We’re not all the same, just like any religion isn’t the same. FIBA says it wants to remain religiously neutral but this is discriminatory."

Back in 2009, Anna North wrote over at Jezebel about the controversey surrounding a Sports Illustrated feature on Abdul-Qaadir. "It is unfortunate that the only way a girl can get "primo real estate in SI" is by being perceived as unusual — and that coverage of Abdul-Qaadir must focus on how she’s different rather than how she’s impressive."

Here’s an interview from 2009 where the basketball star talks about her dreams for the future. It’s a shame that those dreams are now being put on hold.