Since 1987, the South by Southwest (SXSW)–a music, tech and film conference held in Austin, TX–has been celebrated for it’s innovation, acceptance and diversity. Just yesterday, President Barack Obama opened up the conference to a record-attending crowd.
But you know what they say, what a difference a day makes.
On Saturday, Olympic athlete and World fencing champion, Ibtihaj Muhammad felt less than welcome when a male volunteer asked the Muslim woman to take off her hijab during registration. 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,” Mashable wrote.
And Muhammad, 30, took to Twitter to express her frustration and disappointment.
Refusing to take it off, Muhammad ended up getting her picture taken with it on, but to add insult to injury, the volunteer got her name and her affiliation wrong:
Apparently because getting dragged on social media and in the press isn’t a good look, so reps from the conference sent the following statement to news outlets apologizing for their cultural incompetency:
“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.”
This type of anti-Muslim paranoia isn’t all that surprising given the disrespectful rhetoric being spewed in our current Presidential race, especially from Donald Trump who Muhammad has been very critical of in the media.
“I feel like I owe it to people who look like me to speak out. We’re going to send Muslims back to their countries,’ I say ‘Well, I’m American. Where am I going to go?’” she told reporters earlier this week.
This summer, Muhammad will be heading to Rio de Janeiro for the Summer Games, becoming the first athlete to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab. Yaaasss #BlackGirlMagic!