Religion

Muslim-American Olympian Told To Remove Hijab At SXSW

| by Kathryn Schroeder
Ibtihaj MuhammadIbtihaj Muhammad

Muslim-American champion fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad was told to remove her hijab at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas.

“I was just asked to remove my hijab at SXSW Registration for my ID badge.. I can’t make this stuff up #SXSW2016,” Muhammad tweeted the morning of March 12.

She explained the hijab was for religious reasons but the volunteer handling photos for ID badges did not care.

“Even after I explained it was for religious reasons, he insisted I had to remove my hijab for the photo to receive my badge #SXSW2016,” Muhammad tweeted.

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She refused to remove her hijab, based on her ID photo, but her registration process got more complicated when she received the wrong ID.

“Thennnnn I was given the wrong ID! From now on my name is Tamir & I work for Time Warner Inc #SXSW2016,” she tweeted with the following photo:

While participating on the festival’s “The New Church: Sport as Currency of American Life” panel, Muhammad reflected on her registration experience.

"I had a crappy experience checking in," she said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "Someone asking me to remove my hijab isn't out of the norm for me ... Do I hope it changes soon? Yes, every day."

SXSW officials removed the volunteer from the festival.

"It is not our policy that a hijab or any religious head covering be removed in order to pick up a SXSW badge," festival organizers said in a statement. "This was one volunteer who made an insensitive request and that person has been removed for the duration of the event. We are embarrassed by this and have apologized to Ibtihaj in person, and sincerely regret this incident.”

This summer, Muhammad will make history by being the first hijab-wearing Muslim woman to represent the U.S. in the Olympics.

Sources: Ibtijah Muhammad/TwitterChicago Tribune / Photo credit: U.S. Embassy London/Flickr

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