Madona Najarian of Iran returns serve against Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan during their singles match of the Fed Cup in Perth on February 5, 2009. Voskoboeva won the match 6-0, 6-0.
UPDATE: I'm moving this back up to the top of the page because the discussion is nothing short of scintillating.
UPDATE: Comment Of The Week II
It seems very clear that we must all be very careful about the assumptions we make, myself included of course.
Karen - Ironically, I was born and raised in Jamaica so I too am a Jamaican like yourself but I have made my home in Hong Kong and China for the past 12 years now. So I have lived in cultures and countries impacted by colonialism, racism, sexism and homophobia. I also travel for 6 months out of the year and have spent time on every continent - so I am not ignorant of other cultures and am very open to ideas and views that are decidedly not "western". My business partner is from Pakistan and is Muslim (though she is not observant).
I really do not care what a person chooses to believe for themselves provided that all persons are treated equally and have the same equality of opportunity.
I do not believe that women should be required to modify their dress according to how it will impact men. Women should be free to wear whatever they choose to wear. If they want to walk around in a bikini down a busy road - well IMHO they are idiots but I will fight for a woman's right to do that if that is what a woman wants to do.
My discomfort with the hijab and the concept of dressing "modestly" (be it Christian, Jewish, Islamic etc) is that it takes responibility for men's sexual behaviour out of the hands of men - where it belongs - and places it squarely on women. I believe that men have full control over their sexual impulses and to say otherwise not only infantalises men but also sets us along a very dangerous and slippery slope toward blaming the victim for male sexual violence.
In some religions the head is covered as an act of subservience to a/the higher power. Head covering in those religions is about the woman's (or man's)direct and personal relationship with her/his God. The hijab however is not about a woman's direct and personal relationship with Allah but rather is about womens' relationships with men and society and concern that human beings - and especially men - are somehow less than capable of controlling their sexual impulses and desires. I refuse to believe this is true.
If a woman chose to wear the hijab and told me that it had nothing to do with how men perceived her and had nothing to do with sexaul issues, then I would have no problem at all with it. But that is not what the hijab is about.
One can try and say that men also are expected to dress modestly in Islam but the truth is that Iran's (very talented) football team is not wearing the same outfit that the women's tennis team are wearing are they?
Having said all that, if a woman freely and after due consideration makes a personal choice (not one imposed on her by the State or by her family etc etc) to wear the hijab, then, while I may not like what it represents (same as I would not really like a woman who chose to wear a bikin down the high street), i would nevertheless support her right to wear it.
And of course their sexism in other religions and other cultures ... noone is claiming otherwise.
And BTW - Iranian sportswomen have admitted widely and freely that they do not have any choice over what they wear as their uniforms are state mandated and many feel that they cannot compete at the same level as other women as a result and feel hard done by because of it (http://www.rediff.com/news/2005/sep/16flip.htm).
Yes, Safina is a Tatar Muslims. Sania Mirza is also Muslim.
Finally, I hope nobody on these boards is offended by comments here - this is a good and important discussion and especially so in the context of sport. All the best everyone and Happy Year of the Oxe (Gung hei fat choi).