Veiled female members of the UAE Jiu Jitsu team, Shamsa Hasan, Shefaa Moosa Muallem Hasan, and Eman Mohammed, have been dismissed yesterday from participating in the European Open Jiu Jitsu Championship 2014 which is currently taking place in Lisbon, Portugal. Today, negotiations on allowing them to compete wearing a swimming hat were still under way, knowing that the hat will not fully cover their hair. It’s been over a year that Caroline De Lazzer, former UAE Jiu Jitsu team head coach, is leading a campaign to lift the ban on the hijab, the headscarf worn by Muslim women, so the fighters can take part in international competitions.
Caroline De Lazzer, has been calling for the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation to lift the ban while presenting some compelling arguments with no avail: female competitors already wear modified equipment for modesty; other international sports such as taekwondo permit the hijab; and Emirati competitors have already proven that it is not a problem.
In 2012, Shamsa Hassan became the first Emirati woman to win a gold medal in the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, prompting De Lazzer to say it is time for them to compete abroad. Brazilian jiu-jitsu has rapidly become one of the toughest fighting arts in the UAE and the world and a dominant discipline in all-styles martial contests.
However, for the Emirati women to be able to compete, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) has to lift its hijab ban.
ArabsMMA in its turn urges the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation to scrap the ban on women BJJ fighters wearing the hijab during matches and follow the footsteps of The International Football Association Board (IFAB) who has overturned the ban and agreed to re-write the laws after studying reports from FIFA’s medical officer in July 2012. We believe that it is a terrible mistake to ask a person to choose between their faith and sports, especially when there are several alternative ways to accommodate both!