Muslim Girl Back on Basketball Court After Being Benched for Wearing Headscarf

Filed under: In The News, Religion & Spirituality

A 12-year-old Muslim girl, benched and forced to miss the first half of her playoff basketball game because of the religious headscarf she wears, is back on the court in full hijab.

A CBS Baltimore TV station reports a referee pulled Maheen Haq, a seventh grader from Hagerstown, Md., out of the Jan. 15 game, saying her headwear posed a safety threat. However, the girl was allowed to play the second half wearing the hijab after a league administrator granted her a religious exemption.

"I was upset a little bit 'cause I really wanted to play and I enjoy playing basketball," Maheen tells CBS.

But her mother says there was more to it.

"My daughter's heart was broken and I didn't want to break other hearts, as well," Anila Haq tells ABC.

Maheen was only able to go back on the court after her parents assumed liability for any injuries that might occur as a result of the hijab.

The team volunteered to forfeit the game, and parents of her teammates are expressing their outrage with the situation.

"We were very upset when we heard about it because she has been able to play the entire time and there's never been a problem," Connie Cline, a teammate's mother, tells CBS.

But officials from the Mid-Maryland Girls' Basketball League say the referee was just doing what he had to do, because there was no request on file that would allow Maheen to wear the scarf.

There is now.

"He was right to do what he did," Daphnie Campbell, league coordinator, tells CBS.

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, tells the Huffington Post there are hijabs with tear-away strips designed for sports that the girl could wear. He says cases like these can usually be solved with cooperation from both sides.

The team's coach says he regrets the incident.

"I do feel that some people were offended or emotions were hurt, and that's not what we're here for," Mark Hershner tells CBS. "We're here to learn sports and maybe some life skills along the way."

The basketball league is now specifying in its bylaws that any exceptions to the uniform rules need to be put in writing by the child's parent, Campbell tells ABC.

"In no way, shape or form are we trying to discriminate against her," Campbell tells the network.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.