Weight Lifting in a Hijab?

International federation to decide if Muslim woman can lift while covered head to toe.

By Lesley Kennedy • MORE.com Reporter

We know there’s controversy when it comes to mixing religion and politics. Or religion and science. Or religion and dating. Now the latest debate is raging over religion and weight lifting. Give us strength.

CNN reports Kulsoom Abdullah, 35, a Muslim from Atlanta, covers her whole body, save her hands and face, in accordance with her faith when competing in weight-lifting contests.

The problem is, that’s a no-no, according to International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) rules, which say competitors must wear collarless “costumes” that do not cover elbows or knees, according to the network. Abdullah’s normal competition attire? Loose, long pants that hit past the ankles, a long-sleeve shirt with a T-shirt layered on top and a hijab to hide her hair, CNN says.

The IWF constitution also states that distinctions are not made for individuals based on religion, the network reports, but later this month the group will decide at its scheduled meeting whether Abdullah can participate in official tournaments.

“The Olympic movement is all about the universal values of equality,” Mark Jones, a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee, tells CNN. “We value that greatly, but we also respect the rules of sport, especially those set forth for competitive reasons. So we're looking to see if there's some way to accommodate—not just this one particular athlete."

We think that’s one weight that deserves to be lifted.

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First Published June 13, 2011

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