This is the student who caused controversy by insisting on competing in Muslim dress. I hope she will be safe now; there are many Muslims who take seriously the traditional death penalty for apostates. From The Oregonian, with thanks to Michelle Hudson:
Andrea Armstrong, the college basketball player whose desire to compete covered in Muslim clothing caused a national controversy, says she has returned to the Christian faith in which she was raised.
In a letter to the editor of The Oregonian e-mailed Oct. 6, Armstrong wrote that loneliness and distance from her family led to her conversion to Islam. Armstrong, who attended the University of South Florida in Tampa, is from Lakeside, about 90 miles southwest of Eugene on the Oregon coast.
“I know that my actions caused great controversy over the past few weeks,” Armstrong wrote. “I had no idea that a decision that I thought I was making for myself would reach out so far beyond myself and affect so many.”
Armstrong did not respond to interview requests. The letter is Armstrong’s first public comment since a Sept. 15 statement that she was leaving the team.
Armstrong converted to Islam in June, according to a Sept. 11 story in the St. Petersburg Times. She began wearing a head scarf, long pants and long-sleeved shirts in keeping with the religion’s traditions.
Armstrong and USF basketball coach Jose Fernandez agreed that she would not wear traditional Muslim clothing in games, according to the Times.
Yet when Armstrong, 22, returned to school in August, she told the coach she wanted to adhere to her faith, according to the Times. She showed up for team photos Aug. 30 fully covered.
What happened next is in dispute.
Fernandez told The Oracle newspaper of USF that Armstrong quit the team that day to pursue her faith.
Armstrong told the Times that Fernandez said wearing long clothing would make her teammates uncomfortable and that Islam oppressed women. She also said Fernandez called her parents and told them she had joined a “cult.” Armstrong told the Times that she left over the dispute about her clothing.
Fernandez declined the Times’ request to comment and did not return a message from The Oregonian.
School officials said they would seek a waiver from NCAA guidelines to accommodate her dress, and Armstrong quickly returned to the team.
Yet on Sept. 15, four days after news broke of the alleged dispute about her clothing, Armstrong issued a statement saying she had quit the team because she did not want the issue “to cause further distraction.”
Ahmed Bedier of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which Armstrong had contacted for support, was quoted at the time as saying that Armstrong’s real reason for leaving the team was fear. Bedier said that Armstrong received hate-filled e-mails denouncing Islam, and that one man waved a newspaper story while following her in a car as she drove home on a scooter.
A man waving a newspaper story and hate e-mails are deplorable, but just by way of comparison, does Ahmed Bedier reject the death penalty for apostates?