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Documentary Celebrates Muslim Basketballer Fight for Hijab

BOSTON – The Athena Film Festival in New York has announced a new documentary that chronicles the fight of the American Muslim basketballer Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir against FIBA’s ban on hijabs, WGBH reported on January 14.

“Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir broke records and barriers on her way to become the first Division I basketball player to play wearing hijab,” Boston-based production company, Pixela Pictura, wrote on its website.

“When a controversial ruling ends her chances at playing professionally, she re-examines her faith and identifies as a Muslim American.”

Abdul-Qaadir is considered as one of the best women’s basketball players to emerge from Massachusetts.

Bilqis holds the Massachusetts all-time scoring record for women’s high school basketball and was the first Muslim woman to play at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) collegiate basketball.

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She was born almost one century after the birth of the basketball game in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Tim O’Donnell, the co-producer and co-director of the ‘Life Without Basketball’ is an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker and the founder of the production company Pixela Pictura.

The Muslim African American girl had an unstoppable school and collegiate basketball career where she broke records and shattered boundaries, with her hijab.

The Muslim athlete grew up playing basketball against younger boys at her local community center to the age of 13. Then, her parents encouraged her to join the local Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) travel team.

By her senior year of high school, she set the record for most points in Massachusetts state history, racking up an astonishing 3,070 — almost 300 more than second-place Rebecca Lobo, who went on to star in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

She left for Memphis University, where she played the majority of her college before transferring to Indiana State University.

The youthful talent decided to play overseas during her visit to Europe, only to face a ban from the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) over her hijab.

In October 2017, the FIBA finally eliminated its headwear prevention law, allowing players of all faiths to wear their respective headdress.