First Muslim woman at the Games
HALET CAMBEL (TUR, FENCING) - 1916-2014
When a mask replaced the veil.
In 1936 in Berlin, there was nothing to differentiate Halet Cambel, a Muslim athlete, from the other female Olympians.
Her participation in the individual foil event was a testament to the opening-up of her country, Turkey, and the secularism promoted by the Turkish President, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who advocated abolishing the veiling of women.
At the Games, it was a fencing mask that covered her face.
In later years, the situation was very different for Morocco’s Nawal El Moutawakel (Los Angeles 1984) and Algeria’s Hassiba Boulmerka (Barcelona 1992): both defied the religious restrictions in their respective countries by running in shorts and with their heads uncovered.