RELIGION

SXSW Apologizes For Asking U.S. Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad To Remove Hijab

Her ID badge also came with the wrong name printed on it.
Ibtihaj Muhammad poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 9, 2016, in Beve
Ibtihaj Muhammad poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 9, 2016, in Beverly Hills, California.

A world-class fencer who is set to become the first U.S. Olympian to compete in a hijab said she was forced to remove her headscarf by security at the South by Southwest festival on Saturday, and that she was then given an ID badge with the wrong name.

Ibtihaj Muhammad, a member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Fencing team, tweeted Saturday that security personnel at the festival in Austin, Texas, insisted she remove her headscarf for an ID photo, even after she explained that she wears it for religious reasons.

Muhammad, 30, said that the credentials she was eventually given had the wrong name printed on it -- “Tamir” instead of Ibtihaj.

South by Southwest, an annual music, film and technology festival, issued a statement apologizing for the incident.

"It is not our policy that a hijab or any religious head covering be removed in order to pick up a SXSW badge," the statement reads. "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."

After the incident, Muhammad participated in a panel called "The New Church: Sport as Currency of American Life," according to the Chicago Tribune.

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

Muhammad, a New Jersey native, began fencing at 13, and went on to compete for Duke University. She is currently ranked seventh in the world, and second in the U.S. in saber.

Muhammad’s frustration at the SXSW event occurs against the background of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, which has been characterized by overtly xenophobic and racist rhetoric. The Republican front-runner has called for barring Muslims from entering the U.S. and creating a national registry of all Muslims. Violence and discrimination against Muslims (or people incorrectly believed to be Muslim) has been occurring on a near-daily basis around the country.

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