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SXSW Apologizes for Asking Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad to Remove Hijab

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This summer, Ibtihaj Muhammad will become the first-ever American athlete to compete in the Olympics in a hijab. But before the champion fencer makes her Olympic debut in Rio, she’s spending some time at SXSW, where she spoke on the Saturday evening panel The New Church: Sport as Currency of American Life. Unfortunately, her time at the 10-day festival started off on a truly terrible note.

Muhammad, who later told Buzzfeed News that “I did not remove my hijab at any point during SXSW,” was eventually given a badge…with the wrong name on it.

In a statement to The Chicago Tribune, SXSW explained that the individual who asked Muhammad to take off her hijab has been “removed” from the event:

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.

Muhammad addressed the experience during the Saturday evening panel, and said she’s not afraid of losing sponsors by speaking out:

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

[…] If a sponsor wants to walk away … they weren’t meant for me anyway.

(via Washington Post, featured image via Ibtihaj Muhammad on Facebook)

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