Other Sport

Nike star attacks French attitude to sports hijab

2019-03-12 19:19
Ibtihaj Muhammad
Ibtihaj Muhammad (Getty Images)

Paris - American Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad and representatives of her sponsors, Nike, criticised French attitudes to the hijab on a promotional visit to the country.

Muhammad was attending a long-planned event in Paris at which the US sportswear brand launched their strips for 14 nations, including the hosts, in the women's World Cup in France this summer.

In February, the American sportswear company was embroiled in a controversy when retailer Decathlon withdrew sports Nike's hijab from its French stores after one day following threats.

"I'll be in my @Nike pro hijab every damn day," Muhammad, who in 2016 became the first American to compete in a hijab in the Games, tweeted before travelling to France.

"It's sad to me that France has not joined the global conversation around inclusively, around diversity. To prohibit a company from selling a sport hijab is shameful," the Olympic bronze medallist told AFP on Monday. 

"I think that it hurts much more than it helps your nation here."

Bert Hoyt, a Nike vice-president, said the company were looking forward to the women's World Cup in France.

"Our goal is to provide the access for all women to have the opportunity to play sport and to play women's football," he said.

"We believe that we are at the beginning of a journey and we believe that the World Cup in June will be a tipping point for the future of the women's game."

The Nike hijab provoked a strong reactions in France.

A spokeswoman for President Emmanuel Macron's centrist party, Aurore Berge, said the sports hijab goes against French "values". 

Lydia Guirous of the centre-right Republicans said it went hand in hand with "the submission of women."

Muhammad disagreed.

"I think you're not a feminist if you believe that wearing a hijab is not a choice," she said. "Anyone who believes in individual rights, freedom of choice, should support women who choose to wear it.

"It's not your choice. It should be our choice. 

"And anyone who sees a problem with that does not belong in sport, because sport is a place that it supposed to be inclusive of everyone, not matter where you're from, your sexual orientation, your faith, your skin colour, your gender, it doesn't matter," she said.

In the French government, only Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu supported the sale of the hijab.

"I want to go and get women, mothers, girls wherever they are and as they are, to encourage them to practise sport, because it is, I am convinced, a powerful lever of emancipation," Maracineanu said.

Muhammad's hijab is not visible once she dons her fencing mask.

"I do not necessarily need a sports hijab to practise the sport I'm doing, but I know it has made my life easier," she said. 

"I hope it will help women all over the world to be more integrated by being active. There are so many stereotypes and bad perceptions that exist about the Muslim community," she said.

Read more on:    ibtihaj muhammad  |  fencing

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights

Live scoring

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs
Vote

Besides the 'Big 3' of rugby, cricket and soccer, which of the 'smaller' sports in South Africa do you enjoy the most?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.