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Maine HS becomes nation’s first to offer sports hijabs for Muslim student athletes

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EAG News
May 23, 2017

PORTLAND, Maine – Maine’s Deering High School is not the first in the nation to order sports hijabs for its female Muslim student athletes.

Female Muslim students currently wear their own hijabs during sports, and the religious headscarves are typically made of heavy fabric that easily unravels. So a couple of girls on the tennis team started a GoFundMe page to raise money for athletic type hijabs made of lightweight fabric with elastic, and the page quickly raised $425.

Athletic director Melanie Craig combined that money with a $700 anonymous donation to buy 25 $45 sports hijabs from a Minnesota company called ASIYA, currently the only one in the country to offer the product, the Portland Press Herald reports.

“You often see them flipping a scarf over their shoulder while they’re trying to get the ball,” Craig said of traditional hijabs. “We pride ourselves in celebrating our diversity, but this has really been a challenge for my female Muslim student-athletes.”

The Herald cites statistics from the Council on American-Islamic Relations that allege Muslims have faced more hate crimes over the last year, but Deering school officials have reached out recently to Muslim students there to ensure they feel “safe, secure, and valued,” lacrosse player Sulwan Ahmed told the Herald.

“I feel like, within the Muslim community and communities of color, we weren’t really heard before,” Ahmed said. “Now our teachers are listening to us. Deering is actually taking in what we’re saying and taking action.”

ASIYA isn’t the only company to capitalize on the sports hijab debacle. Nike introduced the “Pro Hijab” in March after “top-flight athletes have illuminated performance problems associated with wearing a traditional hijab during competition,” according to a company press release cited by OregonLive.

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But the Nike Pro Hijab is not yet widely available, and ASIYA contends Deering High School is the first to order the sports hijabs for their student athletes.

“They (Deering) are the first school in the U.S. to have ordered hijabs from us on behalf of their athletes,” ASIYA co-founder Jamie Glover told the Herald. “For us, that’s super exciting because we do see this as just another part of the uniform – another piece of equipment that we feel athletes need to be able to play.”

Craig said about 10 of the hijabs were issued with student uniforms for tennis, lacrosse and track, and will be collected at the end of the year. Students can currently choose from black, white or purple – school colors – and Craig said she hopes to customize the headgear with the letter “D” in the future.

“I feel so happy and glad that we’re a diverse and inclusive team and that they actually care about me,” sophomore tennis player Tabarek Kadhim said. “At first, I felt like they did not care about me and, actually, they did. I love my team.”

“I did not do any tennis until now because I was so nervous and shy about wearing my stylish hijab during an athletic event,” Kadhim said. “Now I can actually play and not worry about my hijab falling off.”

This article was posted: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 5:24 am

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