Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hijab no longer will block elite weightlifter

by Thomas Roberts.

After a hard-fought battle in the name of her faith, Muslim weightlifter Kulsoom Abdullah is now able to compete without violating her religious beliefs.

Kulsoom Abdullah will get her chance to prove how strong she is at the U.S. weightlifting championships in July after she proved how tough she is as an advocate.

Abdullah, 35, who was born and raised in Georgia and boasts a PhD in computer networking from Georgia Tech, qualified for the championships, but she was ruled out because, as a Muslim, she refuses to compete without wearing her hijab.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported yesterday that after a challenge from Abdullah, the International Weightlifting Federation approved new guidelines that give women "the option of dressing in attire that doesn't leave their legs and arms exposed."

The barrier came to national attention this week after's Kari Huus spotlighted Abdullah's dilemma. 

"I think it would just be nice that in any sport, if there's a lady who covers her arms and legs … they could still be involved," Abdullah told Huus. Turning to her chosen sport, which is male-dominated, she added: "With the dress code (as it is) Muslim women might think it's not something they should do."

Abdullah said yesterday that she was "really happy" with the ruling, telling the Journal-Constitution:

"The one advantage to all of this is that it raised a lot of awareness. I hope it will help with other sports that other (Muslim) women participate in."


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