The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has amended their guidelines to allow female boxers to wear hijabs at international competitions “should they want to due to religious reasons,” Harpers Bazaar Arabia reported on February 20.
“I fight the prejudices by boxing with my headscarf,” said Nike Pro Hijab ambassador Zeina Nassar in light of AIBA’s historic announcement which was released at the Executive Committee Meeting in Istanbul, Turkey on February 9.
The German Muslim boxer played a major role in reforming the discriminatory rule, after fighting and winning the right to box in her home country.
“I always had to fight them because I had to hear that women with headscarves are not educated, are forced to wear the headscarf and have no freedom. I prove them wrong, those are only clichés,” the five-time German boxing champion expressed.
In fact, AIBA is currently led by the Uzbek Muslim president Gafur Rakhimov who has been the Vice President of AIBA since 1998.
The restriction on hijab in boxing became most notably after the case of the 15-year-old American boxer, Amaiya Zafar.
After years of lobbying against the American boxing organization, they finally adopted a new religious exemption rule in 2017 which allowed Zafar to become the first hijabi boxer in the US and to pursue her dream of competing in the 2020 Olympics.
Shirzanan, an activist group for the rights of female Muslim athletes worldwide, has successfully lobbied on behalf of this issue and continues to fight for other sports to drop their restrictions ahead of the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Interestingly, the American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad made history at Rio 2016 Games as the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing.
However, other sports continue to experience similar discrimination against hijabi Muslim women, like judo which banned Indonesia’s judoka Miftahul Jannah last October from the Asian Para Games when she refused to remove her hijab.
This article was originally published on aboutislam.net