Muslim-Americans celebrate passage of bill that ends religious discrimination against student-athletes in Ohio

Bill 181 is a huge win for Muslim female athletes
Bill 181 is a huge win for Muslim female athletes(Nasreen Shakur)
Published: Mar. 12, 2022 at 11:03 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Student-athletes Abrar Ghazy and Nasreen Shakur feel a huge burden lifted off their young shoulders as they celebrate the unanimous passing of Bill 181 in Ohio.

It’s legislation aimed at ending discrimination against religious expression for student-athletes and was passed in the state Senate earlier this month.

Abrar Ghazy is a junior and member of the basketball team at Lake Erie College.

She described the process of getting a waiver to wear the hijab and participate in sports before the bill was passed as “grueling.”

“They made me measure the Nike [swoosh] on my scarf & take pictures of the scarf from every angle, and all this was for safety protection,” Ghazy said.

Shakur is 16 years old and is part of the rowing team at Laurel School in Shaker Heights.

“To see the acceptance and growth that we have in 2022. It’s amazing, because my school is so accepting,” Shakur said.

While things are better for her now, she said her time in middle school was one of taunts and sometimes threats from classmates, because of her religion.

“I’m going to rip your hijab off as a joke, or I’d rather have a Christian friend than a Muslim friend,” she said.

Shakur and Ghazy say with passage of Bill 181, they don’t have the stress of being singled out again because of who they are.

“Words can be so harmful and when I was younger, it made me ashamed to wear the hijab,” Shakur said.

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