Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Saudi Arabia and the Olympics

Mona Eltahawy calls for the IOC to enforce the ban on discrimination by national Olympic committees by banning Saudi Arabia for gender discrimination:
"The presence of all these Muslim women at the Olympics is a clear message to the world -- and the conservative clerics -- that there is nothing in Islam that stops them from competing in the sports they love.

"Saudi women are fighting back. A few days before the start of the Beijing Olympics, Saudi women’s rights activist Wajeha al-Huwaider posted a video on YouTube protesting the ban on women’s sports in her country. Others are directly challenging the ban by playing underground soccer, basketball and learning horse riding -- risking state anger but determined to be recognized.

"Religious authorities banned an all-women’s marathon and soccer match, but the Jeddah United women’s basketball team makes public appearances as part of their fight against the ban.

"They have a natural ally in Moroccan Olympic gold medalist Nawal El Moutawakel, who this week became the first Muslim woman elected to the International Olympic Committee’s executive board. In 1984, El Moutawakel became the first women from a Muslim majority country to win a gold medal. She must tell Saudi Arabia that it’s time to have sisters on the team.

"And time for that Board to insist Saudi Arabia abides by the IOC charter, which bans discrimination of any kind."

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