CAIR-Philadelphia, Public Officials, Activists to Call on Athletic Association to Drop Hijab Waiver Rule

(PHILADELPHIA, PA, 2/22/18) – On Friday, February 23, the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia) will join elected officials, community leaders, and civil rights activists at a news conference to support the religious rights of a Muslim student athlete who was recently barred from playing basketball because of her Islamic head scarf, or hijab.

Sixteen-year-old Nasihah Thompson-King was prevented from competing in a playoff game on February 16 — despite never having an issue wearing her hijab in previous games — based on a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) policy that requires prior approval for any head covering for medical or religious purposes. News conference participants will call on the association to reverse its policy.

SEE: Philadelphia Hoops Player Forced Out of Game Due to Hijab

CAIR-Philadelphia contacted PIAA earlier this week to communicate its support of the student’s religious rights and to seek an immediate resolution of the issue.

WHAT: News Conference in Response to Violation of Student Athlete’s Right to Wear Religious Head Covering
WHEN: Friday, February 23, 10:30 a.m.
WHERE: Mastery Shoemaker Charter School, 5301 Media Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19131
WHO: PA State Legislators; CAIR-PA; Mastery Shoemaker Charter School; Family of Nasihah Thompson-King
CONTACT: CAIR-Philadelphia Civil Rights Attorney Timothy Welbeck, Esq., 267-515-6712,


  • Sharif El-Mekki, Principal, Mastery Charter School
  • State Senator Sharif Street and Members of the Philadelphia Senate Delegation
  • State Representative Jordan Harris, Chair of the PA Legislative Black Caucus and Members of the PLBC
  • Philadelphia City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr., PA Human Relations Commissioner
  • CAIR-Philadelphia Civil Rights Attorney Timothy Welbeck, Esq.
  • Family of Nasihah Thompson-King

CAIR has defended a number of Muslim, Jewish and Sikh athletes who wish to wear religious attire, including a recent similar case in Maryland.

SEE: Hijab rule keeps junior from playing in regional title basketball game

Last year, welcomed the official implementation of a new ruling by the Switzerland-based International Basketball Federation (FIBA) that lifted the ban on religious headgear and allows players who wear articles of faith — including hijab — to participate in international competitions.

SEE: CAIR Welcomes Implementation of New FIBA Policy Allowing Religious Headgear

Also last year, CAIR-Philadelphia called on the Marple-Newtown School District in Newtown Square, Pa., to allow a Sikh high school soccer player to compete while wearing his religiously-mandated head covering.

SEE: CAIR-Philadelphia Asks School District to Allow Sikh Athlete to Compete Wearing Religious Head Covering

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.

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CONTACT: CAIR-Philadelphia Civil Rights Attorney Timothy Welbeck, Esq., 267-515-6712,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,