Hijab-clad women Olympians attempt to break away from Muslim stereotypes

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Melbourne, Aug 11 : The ongoing Olympic Games will see a large number of veiled female athletes from various Muslim nations competing for events like sprinting, rowing, taekwondo and archery.

Most of these athletes have got themselves specially tailored aerodynamic veils, which expose only their face and hands.

All these veiled athletes are determined to avoid offending devout Muslims back home, as well as showing skimpily dressed rivals there is nothing constricting about wearing "hijab".

While runner Roqaya Al Ghasara leads the Olympic delegation of Bahrain in her tailor made veil, Egyptian fencer Shaimaa El Gammal, a third-timer at the Olympics has said that the veil is a sign she feels more empowered than ever.

"The hijab has never been a problem for me. In Bahrain you grow up with it. There are more women in sport all the time from countries like Qatar and Kuwait. You can choose to wear the hijab or not. For me it's liberating," The Courier Mail quoted Al Ghasara as saying.

Earlier, veils at the Olympics always drew glances, but the veil has come of age at this year's Games, what with an unprecedented half a dozen Egyptian athletes, three Iranians, an Afghan, and a Yemeni will compete with covered heads like Al Ghasara.

All the athletes said that they wanted to inspire other women in their countries to break away from Muslim stereotypes.

"We have women who are ambassadors, doctors, pilots. I haven't been criticised at home, and at the Olympics race or religion is irrelevant, we're all just here to do sport," Al Ghasara, 25.

She is determined to help quash the perception among many in the West that the veil is akin to repression.

ANI

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