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13-year-old Muslim girl excluded from playing basketball in Tavira for refusing to show arms

Fatima Habib, a 13-year-old member of Tavira Basketball Club’s under-16 squad, was prevented from facing Albufeira’s Immortals Basketball Club on Sunday after refusing to strip off the black jersey she had chosen to wear under official gear.

 The referee team did not dispute the headscarf and tights that the girl, of Pakistani origin, has always worn in training and games. Their argument is that they didn’t that the Muslim religion also forbade her to show her arms, and thus forced the girl to leave the field.

Fatima sat on the side-lines of the tournament, after fleeing to the match in embarrassment. Her team captain came to comfort her minutes later, and she was convinced to sit on the benches.

“I was shocked, I cried, and I prayed,” the athlete said with emotion, also recalling that in her fifth year of school the same thing happened to her in PE, but her school supported her decision to wear what she wants, she explained.

On Sunday, when the incident occurred, the athlete suggested that she would feel comfortable rolling up her sleeves to her elbows at most, but she was still not allowed to play.

“She has been with the club for three seasons, is the best player in the team and she has never been affronted so far,” coach André Pacheco, who also serves as deputy director of the D. Manuel I de Tavira School Group, revealed.