SXSW Organizers Apologize After Asking Muslim Olympian To Remove Hijab
Rightfully embarrassed organizers at SXSW issued an apology on Sunday to the Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, after she was forced to take off her hijab in order to take her festival identification photo.
The U.S. Olympian said the volunteer working the check-in table forced her to remove her hijab even after she explained it was for religious reasons. This specific prejudiced request is ironic given that 30-year-old Muhammad will be the first Olympian to represent the U.S. while wearing a hijab at the games in Rio de Janeiro.
After hearing of the incident SXSW organizers immediately removed the volunteer from the festival, saying in a statement, “We are embarrassed by this and have apologized to Ibtihaj in person, and sincerely regret this incident.”
Before this incident occurred Muhammed has been outspoken about the prevalence of Islamophobia, especially in regards to the surging popularity of Donald Trump.
Muhammad said in an interview Wednesday:
“I feel like I owe it to people who look like me to speak out. When I hear someone say something like, ‘We’re going to send Muslims back to their countries,’ I say, ‘Well, I’m American. Where am I going to go?”
Even after the initial issue of identification was resolved, Muhammed said that SXSW accidentally issued her the wrong ID, instead giving her the badge for a Time Warner employee named Tamir. Hopefully the old adage “third times a charm” will apply in this case.