Olympic fencer asked to remove hijab

24th Mar 2016
Olympic fencer asked to remove hijab

(Photo: Creative Commons)

Nadine Osman

US Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad was asked to remove her hijab by a South by Southwest (SXSW) festival volunteer for an ID photo.

The 30 year-old who is poised to be the first US Olympian to wear a hijab, said she was told to remove her headscarf for a security photo at the SXSW festival on March 12 and then was given a credential with an incorrect name.

The world number 7 saber fencer become a prominent US athlete with sponsors such as Visa and American Airlines, tweeted the incident in disdain. She tweeted, “I was just asked to remove my hijab at SXSW Registration for my ID badge. I can’t make this stuff up #SXSW2016.”

The incident does not look good for SXSW, which prides itself on being an annual cultural festival for music, independent films, and technology in Austin, Texas.

SXSW said in a public statement: “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.”

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