Olympic athlete asked to remove hijab for SXSW registration


Courtesy Mashable

South by Southwest (SXSW) is usually known as a creative innovation event where everyone is welcome, no matter what their profile is.

But on Saturday, the Austin-based event made one well-known attendee feel less than welcome.

World fencing champion and Duke University alumna Ibtihaj Muhammad, who is Muslim, took to Twitter on Saturday to detail her experience attempting to register for the annual conference.

According to Muhammad, she was asked to remove her hijab, a headscarf worn by many Muslim women, in order to process her photo registration for the event.

“I was just asked to remove my hijab at SXSW Registration for my ID badge. I can’t make this stuff up ‪#SXSW2016,” wrote Muhammad. “Even after I explained it was for religious reasons, he insisted I had to remove my hijab for the photo to receive my badge.”

Following the tweet, Muhammad received a wave of support from Twitter users who lamented the difficulty she had while trying to register for the popular event while wearing the traditional head covering.

However, not long after, Muhammad posted a photo that showed her SXSW badge in which she is wearing her hijab, although the event worker got her name and affiliation wrong.

Muhammad didn’t explain on Twitter exactly how she was eventually allowed to keep her hijab on while taking the photo. Nevertheless, the apparent quick reversal on the part of the conference will likely be good news to hijab-wearing attendees who saw Muhammad’s tweet and may have been concerned about registering for the event while wearing a hijab.

Muhammad is set to compete in the Olympic Games this summer in Rio de Janeiro and will be the first American athlete to compete in a hijab.

SXSW did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Following the incident, an SXSW spokesperson issued a statement which clarified some of the details regarding what happened to Muhammad.

“It is not our policy that a hijab or any religious head covering be removed in order to pick up an SXSW badge,” a spokesperson told via emailed statement. “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.”


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