FanDuel - WFBC

April 17, 2008

Basketball team resists Saudi restrictions on female athletes.: These Saudi women are going to play basketball, by gum, and there's nothing you can do about it. Zahed, who prays regularly and wears a head scarf even when outside Saudi Arabia, said that nothing in Islam bans women from sports. "Our society just has to get used to it," she said. "It's not yet normal for them to see women playing sports. But times are changing, and they have to start accepting it." (There's even a video of them playing.)[via]

posted by NoMich to culture at 12:48 PM - 24 comments

I welcome our new Haram Globetrotters!

posted by worldcup2002 at 12:54 PM on April 17

I hope this post isn't taken as me bashing Saudi Arabia. My intention is in hoping that these womens' basketball teams are a first step towards greater equality in the kingdom for women.

posted by NoMich at 01:03 PM on April 17

This is great news. Hopefully a great step towards equality.

posted by hawkguy at 01:31 PM on April 17

Unfortunately, I believe it will be a very small step in what amounts to a marathon. This wouldn't happen if the event were being held in Saudi Arabia, where women aren't even aloud to drive. In true wahhabi spirit, if they perform well it will be largely overlooked. If they perform poorly, they will be held up to ridicule by the media arm of the moral police as an example of what happens when you are infected by the influence of infidels. No Islam or Muslim bashing. Just a statement of fact.

posted by Tinman at 03:33 PM on April 17

This wouldn't happen if the event were being held in Saudi Arabia, where women aren't even aloud to drive. This *is* happening in Saudi Arabia. I'm pretty sure that women playing sports isn't much of an issue in most other Muslim-majority countries.

posted by NoMich at 04:13 PM on April 17

Unfortunately, I believe it will be a very small step in what amounts to a marathon. "The journey of a million miles begins with a single step." In true wahhabi spirit, if they perform well it will be largely overlooked. If they perform poorly, they will be held up to ridicule by the media arm of the moral police as an example of what happens when you are infected by the influence of infidels. Eh. Islam doesn't exactly have a monopoly on this kind of double standard. I went to a regular old American high school, and it was much the same when it came to girls in sports: if we did well, we were largely overlooked (or our successes were taken as evidence that we were freaks), and if we did poorly, we were held up to ridicule as proof of the fact that girls were no good at sports (and we should be wasting money on them that we could be spending on the football team, wrestling team, etc., goddamn title IX). In fact, you could look at the situation with girls' and women's sports today and say that while it's not as prevalent or as extreme, this attitude is still alive and well today.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:19 PM on April 17

Amen lbb! My sister ran track and played softball in high school and had runners legs. She caught all kinds of flak because she was good and happened to be a tomboy.

posted by yzelda4045 at 04:38 PM on April 17

I fear for their safety and wish them the best.

posted by igottheblues at 05:43 PM on April 17

Sorry lbb, but I'm not buying what you're selling. Comparing your trailblazing into sports to what these women are doing is grossly unfair to them. In your case, no one watched or cared. My sisters experienced the same thing. That's wrong , but it has changed immensely and will continue to do so. In their case, they're breaking rigid Islamic Sharia law and are risking their lives. And if they're married, their husbands are at risk, too, for allowing this perceived blasphemy. God bless them and I hope that in time, they will be able to break this outrageous tradition and open the doors to logic and reason in the fanatic Islamic community.

posted by Shotput at 06:15 PM on April 17

...they're breaking rigid Wahabist Islamic Sharia law There are differing opinions on what, exactly, sharia law is. Don't think that the ultra-conservatives own the only true Islamic path.

posted by NoMich at 06:42 PM on April 17

Sorry, LBB, but I call bullshit. Here's some differences between Saudi Arabia and a regular old American high school (as per the article): Saudi Arabia follows a strict version of Islam that bans men and women from mingling and does not allow women to drive or travel without a male guardian's permission. Powerful religious clerics also ban sports for girls in public schools, deeming it un-Islamic Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries competing in the Olympics without a female delegation. In a recent posting on the Web site http://www.islamlight.net, prominent Saudi sheiks Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, Abdullah al-Jibreen and Abdul-Aziz al-Rajhi issued a fatwa, or religious decree, banning women's sports centers in the kingdom. While there is a double standard in the U.S. we do have the WNBA, NCAA Women's basketball and Title IX I simply don't see how you can make a valid comparison between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia in their treatment of female athletes. Or Females, for that matter.

posted by cjets at 08:38 PM on April 17

Read for content, Shotput and cjets -- I didn't compare my situation with theirs. Tinman wrote as if a double standard like that is a Muslim thing, or a wahhabi thing. It isn't. In fact, his phrasing was what caught my attention, bringing up echoes of the same old damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't bullshit that female athletes in the US (I won't say in the West) have had to put up with. It's for different reasons, but it's still a double standard, and shaky footing for taking a moral high ground.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:04 AM on April 18

lbb - You took what I wrote out of context. I don't know what your background is with Islam or specifically the wahabi (wahhabi) sect, but it is the ruling denomination in Saudi Arabia. It is a stricter take on being Sunni. So, no, NoMich, it's not the only take, it's the Saudi take. My point, albeit poorly worded, was that IF the Saudi government allows them to compete internationally, it will be solely because the competition will not occur on Saudi soil where the firebrand clerics would have a field day with it. They probably will anyway, but if it doesn't violate the law on their soil, they might allow it. As for there being a double standard. Sure here and elsewhere in the West, but what they (they Saudi women) are proposing is revolutionary in their world. I suppose that's why the thread was posted to culture rather than basketball.

posted by Tinman at 10:42 AM on April 18

lbb - You took what I wrote out of context. I'm perfectly willing to believe that I heard something (i.e., astonishment/outrage at the idea of a double standard) that may not have been there, but I certainly didn't manufacture it out of whole cloth.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 11:35 AM on April 18

It's for different reasons, but it's still a double standard, and shaky footing for taking a moral high ground. I feel very comfortable taking the moral high ground versus the type of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia for all the reasons stated in my previous post among others. One primary reason is their treatment of women, both athletes and women in general. I believe that at a certain point, moral relativism must be cast aside, and one must apply labels of right and wrong. The way the Saudis treat their female population is wrong. And though there still is gender bias in the U.S., Females can become professional athletes, CEO's, Secretary of State and even President (and I voted for her, by the way, and would do so again, if given the opportunity) and I believe that the U.S. is on the right track. If you're talking about Islam in general, that's another story. There are over 1 billion muslims in almost every country in the world. I would not attempt to apply a generalization to them. But this FPP (and my post) is about female athletes attempting to play basketball in Saudi Arabia, not Islamic females in general.

posted by cjets at 11:57 AM on April 18

lbb- no you didn't manufacture it out of whole cloth. However I think we're approaching this from different sides of the same page. Your comparison to the double standard in the West vs. the Saudi view is not without merit. But, it trivializes the plight of the Saudi women on the whole. They are striving to get to a level where a double standard exists. This is sympomatic not only as it pertains to sports, but their place in Saudi society in general.

posted by Tinman at 12:03 PM on April 18

However I think we're approaching this from different sides of the same page. No doubt. Your comparison to the double standard in the West vs. the Saudi view is not without merit. But, it trivializes the plight of the Saudi women on the whole. No, it doesn't, because as I already told you once, there was no comparison.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:45 PM on April 18

Actually, that was cjets you addressed. And whether it was implied, tacitly or unintentionally, you did make comparisons: ...it was much the same when it came to girls in sports: if we did well, we were largely overlooked (or our successes were taken as evidence that we were freaks), and if we did poorly, we were held up to ridicule as proof of the fact that girls were no good at sports (and we should be wasting money on them that we could be spending on the football team, wrestling team, etc., goddamn title IX). Sounds like a comparison to me, or did I somehow misinterpret that?

posted by Tinman at 01:08 PM on April 18

You misunderstood what I was comparing, but I give up. Obviously I'm not communicating very well today.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:11 PM on April 18

Oh I think I understand. You were trying to point out that knuckle-dragging Neanderthals like myself and a few others in this thread seem oblivious to the inequities between women and men in sports. That was not the point of this thread or my comments but rather a detour you set up along the way. I was addressing the institution(s) in Saudi society that make this such a hot topic (especially in the West) in the first place. As for taking moral high ground, I view the wahabists treatment of women with the same disdain I reserve for: the kkk, tribalism, bully diplomacy, W, Cheney, the infringement of church on the state, intelligent design, and Paris Hilton. et al It's hard not to take the moral high ground in that company. Wouldn't you agree?

posted by Tinman at 02:44 PM on April 18

Paris Hilton The Simple Life in Saudi Arabia. That's a show I'd pay to see.

posted by cjets at 02:54 PM on April 18

It wouldn't be a series. It would be a snuff film.

posted by Tinman at 02:59 PM on April 18

"This wouldn't happen if the event were being held in Saudi Arabia, where women aren't even aloud to drive. " Do "women" in Saudi Arabia know how to spell, what are they "allowed" to do?? Can they defend the pick-and-roll?

posted by GoBirds at 12:45 AM on April 19

Yeah, caught that after the three minute edit rule. What's a brother to do?

posted by Tinman at 10:20 AM on April 20

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