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    » 08/06/2012, 00.00


    London Olympics 2012: A comeback for faith, in a country that has banned religious symbols

    In Great Britain it is illegal to wear religious symbols in public places and at work public. Exemplary story of the stewardess sacked for wearing a cross. However, athletes involved in the Games do not hide their religious beliefs. Before and after races, signs of the cross, prostrations and prayers of thanksgiving.

    London (AsiaNews) - Banned by the labor laws and national standards in the discipline of public places, religions and their symbols are back in full view on British soil during the London 2012 Olympics, as the Games enter the last week. From sprinter Usain Bolt to Saudi judoka Wojdan Shaherkani from Maziah Mahusin - the first female athlete from the Sultanate of Brunei - to the distance runner Mohamed Farah House, fresh from winning the 10 thousand meters, the 30th edition has been marked by many competitors revealing the profound meaning that their faith holds for them. It becomes an element of strength and concentration prior to race, or a gesture of thanks after a success four years in the making, the result of long and hard training.

    If UK labor laws were applied to the Games, the king of speed Usain Bolt - the Jamaican who yesterday repeated his Olympic success of Beijing 2008 - would be disqualified for having made the sign of the cross and for the Christian religious symbol around his neck. A paradox? An exaggeration? Not at all, if we think back to the case of the British Airways stewardess, fired for wearing a cross. For the record, she also lost the case in court, where for judges rules that religious symbols should not be publically displayed - or simply worn - in the name of "political correctness" that all the queen's subjects must observe.

    A separate chapter is devoted to the first Saudi woman to compete in the Olympics: the 18 year-old judoka Wojdan Shaherkani, at the center of a heated argument between the Federation and Saudi delegation over the type of veil that the fighter would have to wear. For judo officials, the traditional veil - the hijab - could jeopardize the safety of the athlete, with a risk of suffocation. The Riyadh delegation was inflexible on her wearing the traditional Islamic veil. In the end an agreement was reached and for 82 seconds - the time taken for her defeat - she was able to compete wearing a black cap on the Olympic stage. And, in spite of the results, she says she is ready to resume training toward Rio 2016.

    However, it has been a Team GB member to really redeem the value of faith in a nation that wants to hide religious symbols; distance runner Mohamed Farah (pictured), who won the 10 thousand meters. After the race, the 29-year old Somali-born athlete who grew up in England - a Muslim - knelt on track and thanked Allah for his success. A spontaneous gesture, after four years of hard work and sacrifices. Who, unlike the British Airways stewardess, will not inccur disqualification or the withdrawal of his Olympic medal.


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    See also

    17/07/2012 INDIA - OLYMPICS
    London 2012, judo champion fuels India’s Olympic dreams
    Garima Chaudhary, 22, is the only Indian judoka to qualify for the Olympics. Seven-time national champion in 63kg (her category), the athlete is at 94th place in the world rankings., Garima tells AsiaNews about the sacrifices, hard work, but also what she learned from a discipline such as judo.

    28/03/2006 MIDDLE EAST
    Inter-faith meeting upholds religious freedom
    Representatives from various Christian Churches and denominations meet in Cairo with Muslim scholars and clerics. They agree to a nine-point programme that includes a demand to the United Nations for a declaration on respecting religions and their symbols.

    13/08/2012 GREAT BRITAIN - ASIA
    London 2012: US overtakes China as top medal winner
    The 30th Olympiad is history. The official handover was made to Rio de Janeiro, host city of the 2016 Games. After its triumph in 2008, China takes second place, as Chinese media complain about unfair treatment. Amid competitions and records, faith (Bolt and Farah) wins over British relativism.

    26/06/2012 SAUDI ARABIA
    Saudi Arabia confirms: women can attend the Olympics
    The decision was taken to avoid the exclusion of the kingdom for gender discrimination. So far the only qualified athlete is Dalma Rushdi Malhas, who will compete in showjumping. The other athletes will be selected in the coming weeks. A uniform is already prepared with a sports hijab.

    26/10/2004 INDONESIA
    Despite wall demolition, tensions remain high at the St Bernadette-Sang Timur School compound

    Former President Abdurrahman Wahid urges people to engage in dialogue. Catholic authorities refrain from comments because of tense situation.

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