Egypt’s hijab-wearing volleyballer raises eyebrows in Rio

As the standard uniform of female beach volleyball players at the Summer Olympics currently underway in Brazil is the bikini, Egypt’s Doaa el-Ghobashy has raised eyebrows by becoming the first beach volleyball player to participate at the games wearing hijab (Muslim covering for women).

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, el-Ghobashy said that she wanted to correct widespread misperceptions in the West regarding Islam, saying Muslim women should be represented in all fields.

“I respect those who play [volleyball] in bikinis and my competitors respect my choice to play while wearing hijab,” said el-Ghobashy, whose Olympic uniform reveals only her hands and face.

She went on to assert that, in the Muslim world, women play as active a role as men, particularly in her country, noting that some 5,000 women play volleyball in Egypt.

“I receive positive messages on social media from many countries, especially from women who say I have given them courage and that they are proud of me,” el-Ghobashy said.

“I’ve opened the door for many hijab-wearing women and they thank me for that,” she added.

When asked by her fellow volleyball players why she chooses to wear hijab, the 20-year-old tells them that she has been wearing it for 10 years.

It is her personal preference, she explains, and in accordance with Muslim norms.

“Most of my fellow players understand this,” she said.

El-Ghobashy, who hopes to represent Egypt four years from now at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, says she wants to be judged by her volleyball performance — not by what she chooses to wear.


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