Young Muslim women's experiences of Islam and physical education in Greece and Britain: a comparative study

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Previous research suggests that Muslim women can experience particular problems when taking physical education (PE) lessons, for example with dress codes, mixed-teaching and exercise during Ramadan; and they can face restrictions in extra-curricular activities for cultural and religious reasons. The area is under-researched and there is little evidence of comparative studies that explore similarities and differences in cross-national experiences, which is the aim of this paper. Two studies conducted in Greece and Britain that explored the views of Muslim women on school experiences of physical education are compared. Both studies focused on diaspora communities, Greek Turkish girls and British Asian women, living in predominantly non-Muslim countries. Growing concerns about global divisions between 'Muslims and the West' make this a particularly pertinent study. Qualitative data were collected by interviews with 24 Greek Muslim women, and 20 British Muslim women.

Physical education has national curriculum status and a similar rationale in both countries but with different cultures of formality and tradition, which impacted on pupils' experiences. Data suggested that Greek and British groups held positive views towards physical education but were restricted on their participation in extra-curricular activities. For the British women religious identity and consciousness of Islamic requirements were more evident than for the Greek women. Differences in stages of acculturation, historical and socio-cultural contexts contributed to less problematic encounters with physical education for Greek Muslims who appeared more closely assimilated into the dominant culture.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-38
Number of pages18
JournalSport Education and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2006


  • physical education, Islam, extra-curricular activities, Muslim women, culture