Hi, everyone! My name is Indira Kaljo, and I am a 26-year-old professional basketball player. I started playing basketball in America at the age of nine. My love for the game has allowed me the chance to get an education at Tulane University and to play professional basketball overseas.
I recently decided to wear a hijab full-time because I am so profoundly in touch with my faith at this point in my life. Unfortunately, I became very disheartened after learning that the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) bans the usage of head covering during competition.
I worked my entire life - and overcame incredible odds - to pursue my dream of playing professional basketball. Now FIBA says that I have to choose between my dream and my faith. I find this policy can easily be changed for both sides to win, and I started this petition to ask FIBA to remove its ban of headgear during games.
Article 4.4.2 of FIBA's rule book states that “Players shall not wear equipment [objects] that may cause injury to other players.” FIBA says that this rule is in place for player safety reasons, but where is the evidence of these claims? FIFA had a two-year provisional period allowing for head covering in 2012 to assess the safety of wearing the head covering during play. The provisional period proved the safety risk low so FIFA ended its ban altogether in March. I'm asking FIBA to follow FIFA's lead here.
I have witnessed sport’s awesome power to transcend barriers, but FIBA wants to keep them up in this case. If I’m not allowed to wear a hijab, why are some players allowed to display tattoos of their faiths without discrepancy? There are many talented players worldwide who have been unfairly denied the right to play in any FIBA competition, inlcuding Hijab, Turban and Yarmulke wearing individuals. They’re also being denied employment opportunities. Take my friend Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, the first female basketball player in NCAA history to wear a hijab. She’s an outstanding player, but she may never play basketball overseas due to this rule.
I am asking you to sign this petition today to demand FIBA to change its ban on head covering. Your signature will help us greatly that, God-willing, FIBA will change its rule so all players around the world will be given an equal opportunity to play professional basketball overseas and to represent their country in competition!