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SXSW Apologises To Olympian Asked To Remove Her Hijab

Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images.
Ibtihaj Muhammad is about to be the first hijab-wearing Muslim-American woman to compete for the United States at the Olympics in Rio this summer. She's already received a shoutout from the president and was invited to be a speaker at a SXSW panel in Austin this weekend. This didn't protect her from an indignity many Muslims across the globe have faced, however. As she documented on Twitter, the volunteer taking her SXSW ID badge photo asked her to remove her headscarf.

"Even after I explained it was for religious reasons, he insisted I had to remove my hijab for the photo to receive my badge," she added.

To add insult to injury, she was given the name and affiliation of someone else with the same last name.

"I had a crappy experience checking in," she told the audience at her panel, The New Church: Sport as Currency of American Life, according to the Chicago Tribune. "Someone asking me to remove my hijab isn't out of the norm for me...Do I hope it changes soon? Yes, every day."

SXSW organisers apologised in a statement. "It is not our policy that a hijab or any religious head covering be removed in order to pick up a SXSW badge," the statement said. "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."