United States world champion fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who will become the first U.S. Muslim citizen to represent the country while wearing the hijab in the upcoming Olympics, was asked to remove her headscarf while posing for an identification photo at the SXSW annual firm and media festival.
Muhammad tweeted Saturday that she was asked to take off her hijab while registering for the tech festival in Austin, Texas, Telesur reported.
“I was just asked to remove my hijab at SXSW Registration for my ID badge.. I can't make this stuff up,” the renowned U.S. athlete wrote in a tweet. “Even after I explained it was for religious reasons, he insisted I had to remove my hijab for the photo to receive my badge.”
Also she posted a photo showing that she was given the wrong I.D., belonging to a Time Warner employee with a Muslim-sounding name, Tamir Muhammad.
Speaking at one of the panels at the festival, she mentioned the incident, according to the Chicago Tribune. "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."
Also when asked if she was worried that her major U.S. sponsors would be alarmed by her speaking out against the Islamophobia in the country she answered: "If a sponsor wants to walk away ... they weren't meant for me anyway."
The incident did not go unnoticed as her tweets received many interactions on the social media website prompting SXSW to issue an apology.
"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,” the organizers said in a statement Saturday.
Muhammad, 30, is ranked No. 7 in the world and second in the U.S. in fencing according to the USA Fencing website.