American Muslim Runner Competes in Iran
- American Muslim Runner Competes in Iran
Tehran, 26 September 2005 (CHN) -- Saira Kureshi, the 26 years-old
originally Pakistani runner who is a member of the American athletes'
team in the 4th Women Islamic Games, considers Iranian culture a
lovely, friendly one.
Although she was familiar with the culture because of her Iranian
friends back there in the US, Saira was astonished by the real image
of Iran, devoid of media distortions.
Studying Medicine at Harvard, last year she took a course on women
studies, with concentration on the condition of women in Islamic
countries. That was an opportunity for her to focus on the Iranian
culture, which she loves so much.
With an Asian appearance, she is not taken as an American athlete when
contacted by the people. Because of her familiarity with and interest
in the Iranian culture, she has some plans to take trips to Iran in
the future, running some medical projects which she has begun already
She has been to Iranian restaurants, having Iranian dishes, even
before coming to Iran and mentions the cuisine as a lovely one. She is
looking for an extra time to get out in the streets and buy Iranian
handicrafts as souvenirs.
"Though I don't wear hijab in the US fulltime, I consider it as a
beautiful thing and respect it," she told CHN reporter.
She has been to several other Islamic countries, including Pakistan
(for visiting relatives), Saudi Arabia (for Umrah) and Egypt in which
she spent a year studying Arabic.
Explaining the differences between the Islamic atmospheres of these
countries, she says, "The governments of all these countries are
Islamic but their approaches to issues like hijab are varied. The
general important thing, however, is that they are all Muslims, no
matter how differently you wear hijab."
Considering the Women Islamic Games as a sport tourism event, she
explained, "Providing an opportunity for women to practice sport
without being witnessed by men is a great effort. Although holding
sport events which can not be viewed by all people can not be granted
much as a tourist attraction, but I believe that is not the goal of
games such as the Women Islamic Games."
"The main goal of such events," she adds, "is bringing together the
different cultures and providing an opportunity for Muslim women to
meet each other".
Although considering the media an influential source of information
all over the world, Kureshi does not blame them for creating the wrong
image existing currently in the western world, and believes it is the
task of Muslims, mostly American ones, to appropriate the cliched
image of Muslims released by media.
"I love living in a country in which I am free to practice my
religion. Although American Muslims are a minority in the US, but I
believe we are forming our own culture there, coexisting with all the
other Americans," she asserted.
The 4th Islamic Women Games are held in Tehran from 23-30 September
2005, with 1689 athletes from 40 countries taking part in the
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