Saudi judoka’s father fights back against hijab prohibition

Published On July 29, 2012 | By Arielle Aronson

Female Saudi Arabian judoka Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani will not compete if she is not allowed to wear a hijab, Shahrkhani’s father, Ali, said in a phone interview with a Saudi newspaper.

Olympic and Saudi officials are still in conversations to attempt to determine a solution that will allow Shahrkhani to compete. Ali Shahrkhani told the Saudi paper that he has yet to hear back from the IOC on the matter.

Shahrkhani was told by the International Judo Federation last week she would not be allowed to wear a headscarf during competition. IJF president Marius Vizer said a hijab would not be in accordance with the spirit and principle of judo. Vizer also expressed concerned that the hijab would be dangerous in a competition full of chokeholds and strangleholds.

Shahrkhani is one of the first female athletes along with runner Sarah Attar to represent Saudi Arabia in the Olympic games. The conservative Islamic country reluctantly agreed to send female athletes to the Olympics after much pressure from the IOC to do so, but Saudi officials insisted athletes would have to wear conservative dress in compliance with Islamic law, be accompanied by a male guardian and not mix with men at the Games.

Not all are happy about the inclusion of female athletes in the Saudi delegation. The issue received much attention during the Opening Ceremonies, when some viewers were upset that the Saudi women were forced to walk behind the men while others voiced displeasure about the inclusion of female athletes in the first place.

On Twitter, the female athletes prompted some Twitter users to use an Arabic hashtag that translated to “Olympic_whores”.

Khaled al-Jabri, a Saudi from Jeddah, tweeted, “One should not hesitate to describe their participation as shameful and a great sin.”

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About The Author

Arielle Aronson is a sports writer and recent graduate from Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Print Journalism Magna Cum Laude. Arielle has a passion for sports cultivated from growing up with two older brothers. She also enjoys playing the piano, reading and traveling.