By Claire Valdini
Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani was one of only two Saudi women to take part in Olympic Games
The father of the first ever Saudi female to take part in the Olympics has said he will sue those who insulted his daughter and accused her of defying strict Islamic traditions preventing women's participation in sport.
Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani was one of only two Saudi women to take part in this year’s Olympic Games after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) lobbied the conservative Gulf state to end its ban on sending women to the games.
Shaherkani's debut lasted just 82 seconds before being defeated by Puerto Rico's Melissa Mojica, but received a standing ovation from the audience when she left the stadium.
Despite the international praise, Shaherkani and her father, an international judo referee, have become the subject of intense criticism at home.
Ali Seraj Shaherkani told Al-Sharq newspaper that he had already written to Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister with copies of insults made on the Twitter.
“I have sent an urgent letter to the Minister of Interior Prince Ahmed bin Nayef bin Abdul Aziz with copies of all attacks made on Twitter,” said Shaherkani. He has also hired a lawyer to sue those that attacked his daughter, he added.
Shaherkani, who has only been practicing judo for two years, almost did not take part in the competition after the International Judo Federation said she could not wear her hijab. She was eventually allowed to compete wearing a swimming cap to cover her hair.
US-raised Sarah Attar is due to compete in the 800m running event on Wednesday.
Female participation in sports has long been a controversial issue in Saudi Arabia, where conservative Muslim clerics have said it is immodest and goes against women's nature.
Until this year, the kingdom was one of three countries, including Brunei and Qatar, never to have sent female athletes to the Olympics. After months of negotiations with the IOC the Saudi Olympic committee agreed to send Attar and Shaherkani.
I commend this young lady for her performance. She has made great strides on behalf of her fellow country women to advance their progress in sport at international level. I also support her father for taking this stand and showing up the non-Islamic behavior of backward individuals who are a disgrace to their religeon.
@Grace, it is non-Islamic to be backward. Islamic is a progressive religion like many. It is the enforcers of religion and people their interpretation on others that is a disgrace to their religion.
On another note, well done to this young lady and her father.
My respect to this young lady and her family for their courage.
They should be thanked for showing that even in KSA there are normal people instead of being insulted by the ignorants who will accept modern products but refuse to live in their time. Their pupose is to keep control on the biggest part of the society and the most important for the education and continuity of the cultural traditions = The mothers.
Real Islam shows much more respect for women that the practice and some few people in some countries want to admit.
Dear Shaherkani, you have made yourself and your father proud. you will get to hear/read a lot of rubbish (just ignore all this negative comments); believe in yourself and your abilities; make a change for yourself and your community; Only this matters;
We respect her and her Father.
More power to the young lady who's a great sports woman.
Ms Shaherkhani, you have done Saudi/Muslim women proud.
Ignore the ignorant self-appointed enforcers. They are only good at bringing much shame to a great and progressive religion.
After all, heaven lies under thy Mother's feet, according to our Prophet.
And, women hold up half the sky . . . as Mao said.
Be brave, young lady. May God be with you.
As you mentioned Islam is a progressive Religion, it is also a religion which urges you to be the best of the best, not to send someone to be a laughingstock in such a big event.
We should all first sharpen our skills then try to compete with the worlds best. 83 Seconds, Imagine!!
@Mirza, i think this is what exactly Grace said... she called individuals with backward mentality as having a Non-Islamic behavior and a disgrace to Islam.. !!!
Sister, never mind you did good for your country and shame on the people who booed you. You are going to be an example to many young women athletes in Saudi and other Arab countries. We were very proud of you. You have a brave father who brought you to the Olympics. Whoever does not want to be defeated is not a game player, so well done and keep on practicing to the next Olympics if god wishes amen.