NJ olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad asked to remove hijab for SXSW security photo
An olympian from New Jersey received an apology from organizers of the SXSW festival after being asked to remove her hiijab on Saturday for a security photo.
Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad of Maplewood, a speaker at the festival in Austin, Texas, tweeted that she was asked to remove her head covering, called a hijab, when her photo was taken for a security badge.
"Even after I explained it was for religious reasons, he insisted I had to remove my hijab for the photo to receive my badge," the 30-year-old Muslim tweeted. According to her biography on the Team USA website, she hopes to be the first U.S. athlete to compete wearing a hijab.
Muhammad spoke of her "crappy" experience when she spoke on a panel called "The New Church: Sport as Currency of American Life," according to the Chicago Tribune. She said it wasn't the first time she was asked to remove the religious article of clothing.
"Do I hope it changes soon? Yes, every day," said the 2007 Duke University graduate who has her own fashion line called Louella by Ibtihaj Muhammad
The newspaper received a statement from SXSW organizers which said a member of the apologized in person to Muhammad.
"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," read the statement.
Muhammad was coach of the 2014 Columbia High School fencing team that won the state championship in 2014.