A Muslim athlete was disqualified from her high school volleyball match for wearing a hijab

By Alaa Elassar

CNN — A Tennessee high school athlete was disqualified from a volleyball match for wearing a hijab, prompting calls for a statewide rule change.

Najah Aqeel, a freshman at Valor Collegiate Prep in Nashville, was warming up for a match on September 15 when her coach said a referee had refused to let her play due to her headscarf.

The referee cited a casebook rule requiring athletes who wear a hijab to be granted authorization from the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA). Najah, 14, said she did not have authorization, but that it wasn’t an issue for previous matches.

Faced with the choice to remove her hijab or sit out the match, Najah decided not to play. Most Muslim women who wear the hijab only remove it in the presence of other women or immediate family members.

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Categories: Hijab, Sports

6 replies

  1. This is absolutely disgusting. I am afraid the referee did not realize what he was asking from this student. That is a part of her identity and she can’t just take it off. This is almost never an issue and she should have been told to get a hold of the authorization beforehand. What happened was wrong and other referees should know about this incident so it isn’t repeated.

  2. It’s sad that I’m not surprised.
    Would it be okay if I went around and asked people to take off their masks because being unable to see their faces makes me uncomfortable?
    This is not an issue about the rules, its a personal issue for the referee.
    Muslim women wear the scarf for a reason, the same way we wear a face mask.
    If in the near future, people have to cover their heads to protect themselves from the disease, no one will say anything.
    People seem to have forgotten that many women were denied public services because they covered their faces for religious reasons. Now I see posters on the bus stating that a “face covering” is mandatory.
    THE IRONYYYYYYY.

    • right. And in Switzerland some lady did not get a Swiss passport, because she did not want to shake hands. And now no-one is permitted to shake hands. THE IRONYYYYY.

  3. One big allegation raised against Muslim women is that they wear the hijab not from their own will but from submission and oppression to the men.

    This girl is clearly not submitted or oppressed – if she was, she wouldn’t even be allowed to play this sport in a competition environment. But she is playing, growing, evolving and empowering other girls to pursue a hobby that makes them healthy and focused. What’s wrong in wanting to do that? Isn’t this what this society promotes?

    What comes as oppression is the referee telling her that she cannot play because of her headscarf. THAT is oppression. Talking or submission, didn’t she had to submit to that referee’s request and had to sit down? She put her faith’s requirements higher than the society’s expectations.

    What mark is this going to leave on this young lady for years to come? This could be a trauma that could scar her for life. Just because one person has personal issues with another religion. Had he imagined his own daughter being treated like that, he would’ve never let this one pass .

    Fyi: Even major sports brands like Nike came up with sporty hijabs to empower Muslim women to embrace sports openly.

    May Allah give strength to this young girl and to all other Muslim women to always put their faith first. Ameen. Those who give precedence to Allah Almighty are never left alone and are rewarded by Him.

  4. This incident sheds a light on the fact that without proper thought anyone to this day can make remarks to a Muslim based on their practices and in this case the head covering. Najah, a 14 year old girl, knew exactly what she had to do and so she did by not playing. This is a lesson learnt that with people still making remarks will not break the confidence we Muslims have in our practices. This should be an eye opener for the referee as well as the people who hold the same stereotypical views. By wearing a hijab or a head covering it should not be seen as something new, it should be accepted because that’s the basics of human rights and that’s what we find our comfort in.

  5. That’s ridiculous. They call themselves so called libral and literates. But they don’t know how to give space and respect to others religions and thoughts.
    Very shamful act.

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