Saudi Woman Competing at Olympics Without Hijab

Decision will likely be controversial
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2012 1:55 PM CDT
Saudi Woman Competing at Olympics Without Hijab
In this undated photo provided by Reema Abdullah, members of the Jeddah Kings United all female team attend football exercise in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of Reema Abdullah)

Saudi Arabia is sending women to the Olympics for the first time—and at least one of them, a judo competitor, won’t be wearing a traditional Islamic headscarf while competing. Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani "will fight according to the principle and spirit of judo, so without a hijab," says the president of the International Judo Federation. The decision could make waves in the conservative country, where clerics speak out against women exercising in general, Reuters notes.

And a Saudi official said earlier this month that the Olympic athletes would probably have to obey Islamic law’s dress code. In addition to a headscarf, that traditionally involves long sleeves and long pants. Shaherkani will be joined at the Games by runner Sarah Attar. Brunei and Qatar were the other two countries that had never sent female athletes to the Olympics before; both will do so this year. (More Saudi Arabia stories.)

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