Muslim-American Olympian Asked to Remove Her Hijab at SXSW

The festival later apologized to Team USA fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who will be the first American to wear a headscarf during competition at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 9, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. 
Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 9, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif.  Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The incredibly popular South by Southwest festival, made even more so by President Barack Obama’s address there this week, made an unfortunate misstep when it asked African-American Muslim and Rio-bound Olympian Ibthihaj Muhammad to remove her head covering for a press photo Saturday.

To add insult to injury, when Muhammad—who will be the first U.S. Olympian to wear a hijab—finally received her badge, it had another Muslim-sounding name on it: Tamir.

Muhammad, a Duke University graduate and member of the USA Fencing World Team, tweeted about the incident Saturday, saying that she wore her headscarf for religious reasons, but SXSW authorities “insisted” she remove it to receive her credential.

SXSW released a statement about the incident later in the day, saying that it “sincerely regrets” the incident, reports The Guardian:

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 apologized to Ibtihaj in person, and sincerely regret this incident.

Not only does the Visa- and American Airlines-sponsored fencer slay with her saber, but the Newark, N.J., native is also the creator of Louella, an online fashion line for chic Muslim women.

Read more at The Guardian.

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