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Olympic Games 2012: the Hijab Edition

Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani did more than compete at the London 2012 Olympic Games, she caused diplomatic uproar and blazed a trail for future Saudi female athletes. Her journey didn't get off to a promising start as the International Judo Federation refused to allow her to wear a hijab while competing, however the Saudi delegation would not relent on this non-negotiable clause. This incident certainly posed a quandary for the Olympic committee, who were the ones pushing for the inclusion of women from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Nations. Three days of negotiations later, Ms Shahrkhani was allowed to compete while wearing a modified hijab. On Friday, August 3rd, Shahkrhani was welcomed by a roaring crowd as she faced her opponent, Melissa Mojico of Puerto Rico. In a bittersweet turn of events, Shahkrhani's was defeated a mere minute and twenty-two seconds after the match's start. Although the match resulted in a loss, the greater win was, of course, the promotion of women's equality at the Olympics, as well as the rise in acceptance of hijabs in the mainstream. Roughly at the same time as the judo match, elsewhere in London half a dozen hijab-clad women competed in Track and Field, representing Libya, Iraq, Jordan, Oman, Yemen, Qatar and Afghanistan. Track and Field has lifted the ban on hijabs years ago, furthering the change that is slowly, but surely, on its way.

Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani wearing a modified hijab


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