08/06/2012, 00.00
GREAT BRITAIN - ASIA
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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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