Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani: Full Story Behind Headscarf Controversy

Eric Ball@@BigLeagueEballFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2012

Photo via CBS News
Photo via CBS News

A Saudi Arabian Olympic athlete has been told she will not be able to wear a headscarf during her judo competitions, according to CBS News.

Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani is looking to become one of the first ever female competitors from Saudi Arabia to compete in the Olympics.

The Olympic federation has never banned women from covering their hair in the past, and today’s news comes as a surprise.

Federation spokesman Nicolas Messner explains the decision was made only because of the potential safety issues that could arise (via CBS News):

"In judo we use strangleholds and chokeholds so the hijab could be dangerous," Messner said, adding that the Japanese martial art does not recognize differences in things like politics or religion.

"The only difference between competitors should be their level of judo.”

Federations in Asia have allowed the headscarves to be worn by Muslim women in their big competitions, according to the report.

Better known as a “hijab”, the headscarf is something that Muslim women in Saudi Arabia are expected to wear to abide by the dress code of Islamic law, according to Reuters.

CBS News reports that the ruling may force Shahrkhani to bow out of the competition:

Saudi leaders only agreed to send women to the Games for the first time on the condition they be allowed to wear appropriate clothing for Muslim women, including a headscarf.

There has been no response from Saudi Arabian officials regarding the Olympic status of Shahrkhani in wake of Thursday’s news. 

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