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Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir

Final Four Panel Discussion featuring Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir 

Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir is a Muslim American and former collegiate basketball player for the University of Memphis and Indiana State University. Abdul-Qaadir was also the first NCAA Division I athlete to wear a hijab while playing. Her dream of playing professional basketball overseas was cut short when she learned about the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rule that banned religious head coverings on the court. She petitioned the federation for a rule change that resulted in a four-year review of its policy. She joined the #FIBAAllowHijab campaign to garner support to change the policy, and in 2017 FIBA changed its rules to allow head coverings in international competition.

While advocating for the rule change, she started her own campaign, Muslim Girls Hoop Too, which encourages Muslim girls to play sports and openly express their faith. She and her husband also started Dribbling Down barriers, a program that facilitates play between Muslim and non-Muslim athletes to get people of different faiths to be comfortable with each other. Her journey prompted a documentary film, Life Without Basketball, which was shown Nov. 10, 2020 at the DOC NYC film festival. Abdul-Qaadir continues to share her story while encouraging Muslim women and girls to be participate in sports.

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