U.S. Olympian asked to remove hijab at culture fest

Incident pertaining to Ibtihaj Muhammad comes amid increasing rhetoric around Muslims in the United States.

Updated - September 20, 2016 03:04 pm IST

Published - March 14, 2016 01:54 pm IST - HOUSTON:

Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad poses for photos at the 2016 Olympic Team USA media summit on March 8, 2016, in Beverly Hills, California. She would be the first American to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab.

Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad poses for photos at the 2016 Olympic Team USA media summit on March 8, 2016, in Beverly Hills, California. She would be the first American to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab.

Amid increasing rhetoric around Muslims in the United States, an Olympian was asked to remove her hijab for a photo on her ID badge by the staff at a cultural event in Texas, following which the organisers apologised to her.

Ibtihaj Muhammad, an Olympian fencer, was picking up an identification badge at the interactive Texas festival South by Southwest (SXSW) event on Saturday when a volunteer told her she must take off her hijab before her photograph could be taken.

She explained, he insisted

“Even after I explained it was for religious reasons, he insisted I had to remove my hijab,” she said on Twitter.

Ms. Muhammad (30), the fencing star will become one of the most prominent Muslim athletes in U.S. history wearing a hijab during 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics beginning in August.

And then, they apologise

“It is not our policy that a hijab or any religious head covering be removed in order to pick up a SXSW badge. 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 apologised to Ibtihaj in person, and sincerely regret this incident,” SXSW organisers said on Saturday in a statement.

The 23rd annual 5-day SXSW Interactive Festival began on March 11 in Austin.

At a time of toxic rhetoric around Muslims

The incident comes at a time when the rhetoric around Muslims in the U.S. has grown increasingly toxic.

Ms. Muhammad has become an outspoken critic of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who called for a ban on Muslims from entering the U.S. “I feel like I owe it to people who look like me to speak out,” she told reporters.

She was issued wrong ID

After the incident was resolved at the event, Ms. Muhammad said that she was issued the wrong identification.

“I was given the wrong ID! From now on my name is Tamir & I work for Time Warner Inc” she tweeted.

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