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SXSW Muslim Incident: 2016 Olympic Fencer Asked to Remove Hijab for ID

Image: SXSW Muslim Incident: 2016 Olympic Fencer Asked to Remove Hijab for ID
L: Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad poses for photos at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in Beverly Hills, California. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes). R: (Twitter/@IbtihajMuhammad)

By    |   Monday, 14 Mar 2016 10:14 AM

A SXSW Muslim incident is drawing criticism after a festival volunteer asked a 2016 Olympic fencer to remove her hijab during registration over the weekend.

Ibtihaj Muhammad, who will likely make history this summer as the first Muslim woman to compete for the U.S. Olympic team, tweeted about the Saturday incident.



And her frustrations didn’t end there: Though she ultimately did not remove her head covering, the ID she received had an incorrect first name and company affiliation.


"I had a crappy experience checking in," Muhammad 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."

Event organizers apologized, and the volunteer responsible for the mishap was dismissed.

"It is not our policy that a hijab or any religious head covering be removed in order to pick up a SXSW badge," South by Southwest festival organizers said in a statement to the Tribune. "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.”

Muhammad, a member of the U.S. 2014 world champion fencing team who was at SXSW to speak on a panel called "The New Church: Sport as Currency of American Life," is ranked seventh in the world in sabre, The Washington Post reported. She is expected to be the first U.S. athlete to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab.

Muhammad told The Associated Press that she hopes to use her status as an Olympic athlete to help counter anti-Islamic sentiment.

"I feel like I've been blessed to be in this position, to be given this platform,” she said. “When I think of my predecessors, and people who've spoken out against bigotry and hate, I feel like I owe it not just to myself but to my community to try to fight it. There are people who don't feel safe going to work every day, that don't feel safe being themselves. I think that's a problem."

Twitter users took to Muhammad’s defense.






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A SXSW Muslim incident is drawing criticism after a festival volunteer asked a 2016 Olympic fencer to remove her hijab during registration over the weekend.
sxsw, muslim, incident, hijab
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2016-14-14
Monday, 14 Mar 2016 10:14 AM
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